Get Today in Masonic History into your Inbox. Sign up today for one of our email lists!

TODAY in Masonic History:

Facebook Twitter Google

William Venoid Banks Passes Away

Today in Masonic History William Venoid Banks passes away 1985.

William Venoid Banks was an American businessman.

Banks was born on May 6th, 1903 in Geneva Kentucky. He graduated from Lincoln Institute of Kentucky. He later went on to graduate from Wayne State University and the Detroit College of Law.

In Detroit, Banks became the first President and General Manager of WGPR-FM. This became the first Detroit radio station to have programming for the African American community. He went on to own WGPR-TV. It became the first television station in the United States to be owned by an African American.

Banks passed away on August 24th, 1985.

Banks claimed to be a member of St. Johns Masonic Lodge in Geneva, Kentucky. He later claimed the lodge ceased to exist with no real explanation as to why.

In 1939, Banks was asked to take over the organization Modern Free and Accepted Colored Masons, a clandestine masonic organization located in Michigan. In 1950, Banks appears to have created the United States Charter Authority, Inc. It was through this organization Banks changed the name of Modern Free and Accepted Colored Masons to International Free and Accepted Modern Masons (IF&AMM). Under this new "authority" it was claimed IF&AMM was an international organization and capable of creating new lodges around the world. It also claimed, incorrectly, the charter issued by the United States Charter Authority, Inc was no different from a charter issued by the Grand Lodge of England or the Grand Orient of France.

In some of the early literature produced by IF&AMM it states for every $5 you pay in dues, $3 goes into an account for the member for future use. Other literature states by getting a new member a portion of the "initiation fee" is given to the member who recommended them.

IF&AMM is considered to be clandestine by most Grand Lodges and Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodges in the United States.