Elks Celebrate 120 year anniversary
On Nov. 17, the Improved Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the World (IBPOEW) celebrated 120 years of charity and service to the community.
The IBPOEW, or Black Elks, was granted a copyright as an organization on Sept. 28, 1898, in Cincinnati, Ohio and held its first meeting on Nov. 17, 1898. A Pullman porter, Arthur James Riggs, and Benjamin Franklin Howard, who were both members of another fraternal organization, met in that city, and they discovered that they both had dreams of forming an Elks organization for people of color. Their dreams and plans were realized when the first Lodge, Alpha Lodge No. 1, was organized in Cincinnati, as a result of the efforts of these two men.
On June 13, 1902, Emma Virginia Kelly organized the Daughters of Elks in Norfolk, Va. This group was later adopted by the Grand Lodge and became an auxiliary body to the Brothers of Elks. The first Temple was Norfolk Temple No. 1, Norfolk, Va.
Dedicated to the principles of Charity, Justice, Brotherly/Sisterly Love and Fidelity, the IBPOEW has been on the forefront of improving and empowering the community, especially the minority community, for the last 120 years and has no plans for stopping. From fighting for human rights and against social injustices through the Civil Liberties Department; promoting self-confidence, creativity and empowerment in young women through the Beauty & Talent department; providing an avenue for young people to foster critical thinking abilities, enhance their persuasive writing skills and sharpen their public speaking talents while competing for scholarship monies through the Education department’s Oratorical contest the members of the Elks organization are thoroughly immersed in every facet of the community through its various departments.
The annual oratorical contest is one of the IBPOEW’s most widely recognized and anticipated programs. Each year, high school juniors and seniors from across the world write and deliver original orations in Elks Oratorical contests while vying for scholarship monies. The IBPOEW Oratorical has served as an avenue for some of America’s most influential and prolific African-American figures. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, Dr. Dorothy I. Height and Oprah Winfrey are among the winners and participants over the years.
The IBPOEW organization is headquartered in Winton, North Carolina and boasts a membership of over 500,000 worldwide. Leonard J. Polk, Esq. currently serves as the Grand Exalted Ruler of the Improved Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the World and Margaret D. Scott serves as the Grand Daughter Ruler.
The North Carolina State Association of Elks is comprised of the lodges, temples and auxiliaries within the state. PGER Romus Jeffries serves as the NC State President and Dgt. Darlean Eaves, PGDR serves as the Daughter State President. The local community is served by Pride of Salisbury Lodge 1774 chartered in Salisbury, NC.