Did lodges provide mutual aid to African Americans after slavery?
While they are not as widely studied as institutions like the black church, African American lodges and other fraternal organizations did play an important role in providing mutual aid to African Americans in the time after the end of slavery.
African American lodges had been in existence since the earliest days of the United States. Of course, they had only been available to free blacks in the North. After the end of slavery, lodges arose in the South as well. These lodges provided many of the same benefits as other kinds of mutual aid societies. That is, they provided things like insurance and burial benefits. However, lodges also provided a more psychological kind of mutual aid. That is, they were places in which African Americans could utilize their talents and be admired and honored for it. In regular society, African Americans of all sorts were looked down upon by whites. The lodges gave blacks a place where they could gain some level of respect based on their own abilities and actions. This was perhaps as important as the sorts of material mutual aid that the lodges provided.