Artist Faisal Abdu’Allah’s “Dark Matter” exhibition at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art is shedding a light on Prince Hall Free and Accepted Masons, a centuries-old fraternal organization that has been viewed by many as secretive. All of their meetings are held privately and members rarely speak publicly about the organization.

Local Mason Alan Chancellor said the goal of Madison’s Capitol City Lodge No. 2, one of Wisconsin’s 11 Prince Hall lodges, is simple.

“We are a brotherhood of men committed to self-improvement, improving our communities and being patriotic good stewards of this country,” he said.

The history of the organization dates back to 1775, when Prince Hall and 14 free Black men from Boston were declared Masons. Many prominent Black leaders in the U.S. have connections to Freemasonry, including writer Langston Hughes and civil rights leader John Lewis.

A key aspect of Freemasonry is service. Some of the local initiatives that Chancellor’s lodge has led include scholarship funds and the settling of lunch bill debts for local high school and middle school students, Chancellor said.