PHOTOPHILE- Skit-ish Elks: Lodge members gather for fun

Charlottesville's own Rivanna Lodge #195 hosted the Elks annual state convention May 24-27 at the DoubleTree Hotel. Before an audience of a hundred or so on May 24, members of the world's largest black fraternal organization acted, sang, and narrated the early history of their club. Jacqueline Creecy portrayed Buena Vista Kelley, the Norfolk woman who started a chapter in 1902. 

The full name of the parent organization is the Improved Benevolent Protective Order of the Elks of the World, or IBPOEW. Founded in 1898 by a former slave, it now claims 500,000 members in about 1,500 lodges worldwide. Female Elks are called "daughters."

"Black women," explains Rachel Sprow, "needed something to participate in." Sprow added that the Elks help the community by providing aid to seniors as well as offering some scholarships.

The event itself was pretty low-key. Everyone arose at 6am on Wednesday for a full day of events. Thursday's events included a civil liberties awards luncheon and an "Apollo Night" of skits and music. Friday saw an oratorical contest and youth program, and Saturday night the festivities wrapped with a gala dance.

Daughter Hazel Boyd

Daughters Lina Smith, Jacqueline Creecy, Betty Duncan, Wanda Warden and Katherine Crawford

Daughter Doris McMurray

Daughter Helen Sprow

Daughter Rachel Sprow