It’s important to note, that just like in Freemasonry, there were often Caucasian animal Lodges operating along side their African American cousins. While most people know of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, lesser known is their African American counterpart, the Improved and Benevolent Protective Order of Elks of the World (IBPOEW.)
According to their website “The Improved Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the World were granted a copyright as an organization September 28, 1898, in Cincinnati, Ohio. 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 a dream 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, Ohio. As the Elks prevailed, the organization struggled against many racist attitudes and legal efforts to deny the existence of the Improved Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the World.
On June 13, 1902, Emma Virginia Kelly Organized the Daughters of Elks in Norfolk, Virginia. 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, Virginia.
The Elks is the largest predominately Black, fraternal organization in the world, and boasts a membership of over 450,000, with Lodges and Temples in the United States, Canada, Mexico, West Indies, Panama, and the Bahamas. In 1998, the organization celebrated its international centennial, which was hosted in the City of Las Vegas, Nevada – one hundred years – since their founding. The second one hundred year centennial celebrated was held in 1999, hosted by the City of New Orleans for the founding of the Grand Lodge. The parent body of the organization. Congratulatory acknowledgements were received from the United State President William Jefferson Clinton, every presiding Governor of the twenty-seven State Association representing domestic jurisdictions personage, corporations, and letters from governing authorties of foreign jurisdictions under the umbrella of Elkdom.”