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History of Nabbar Temple No. 128

The history of the Shriners in the African American Community of Atlanta has a rich history that is interwoven with the great civil rights struggles of the new South. The Shriners of North American of the White Masons came to Atlanta, Georgia with Yaraab Temple, when it was organized on December 15, 1899. Before that, it was originally created in New York City, New York on September 26, 1871. It was believed that the Shrines’ origin with the famous actor, Bro. William Florence who was entertained as a Mason at Marseilles in Bokhara Temple of the Arabic Bektash in 1870. This meeting was presided over by Yusef Churi Bey of the Persian Consulate. The Oriental style ritualistic opening was shown to Bro. Florence by the Moorish leaders who sent him to Algiers and Aleppo where these Moorish teachers gave him more insights on the work. Next, Bro. Florence communicated this new degree and ritual to Doctor Walter Fleming (member of Auroa Grata Consistory of New York).  Both Fleming and Florence on June 16, 1871, conferred the Order only to Freemasons. Four of the candidates were members of the Knights of Templar Commandery and seven of the candidates were 32nd Degree Masons of the Consistory. 

 

The Atlanta Shrine Temple for Black Freemasons was originally chartered as Rabban Temple #27. Rabban Temple was organized on July 8, 1908. The First potentate as far as we can tell was the Illustrious Charles H. Anderson. Rabban Temple was hit with an injunction to cease operations due to a lawsuit brought by the White Shriners of Yarrab Temple of Atlanta and their Illustrious Potentate Forest Adair. Consequently, on May 15, 1916, Judge H. M. Reid ruled against Rabban Temple with Ill. Potentate Charles A. Faison as the named party in the lawsuit. As a result, there were no Shrine Temples active in Georgia from 1917 until 1935, due to the racist lawsuit that was served to attack the legitimacy of Prince Hall Freemasonry. 

Finally, the court case would be taken all the way back to the United States Supreme Court, where this injunction was overturned, and the result was that the Black Shriners of the Prince Hall family were vindicated and validated in a court of law that they were just as legal as their White counterparts. The court battle won by the Imperial Shriners on behalf of Atlanta, marks the origin of Jubilee Day, as a celebration. The Rabban Temple #27 was now disbanded, and Grand Master John Wesley Dobbs (as an at large representative of the Shriners in Georgia) re-organized the Temple with 41 new nobles and changed its name to the reverse spelling. On July 1936, M. M. Dowdell of #86 becomes the new Potentate of Nabbar Temple #128.

Doug Evans, Grand Historian of Georgia

Walkes, J. A. (1993). History of the shrine: Ancient Egyptian Arabic order nobles of the mystic shrine, inc. (Prince Hall affiliated): A Pillar of Black Society, 1893-1993. Ancient Egyptian Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine of North and South America and Its Jurdictions, Inc. (P.H.A.).