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Fraternal organizations proved popular among African Americans for the same reasons that they proved popular among other Americans: providing financial, spiritual, and emotional aid, they were invaluable to the communities they served. African American fraternities, however, had the added purpose of improving self- esteem. First instituted during slavery, the membership, rituals, uniforms, and offices of these societies generated a respect not available outside of the lodges. Fully committed to economic, personal, and academic advancement, fraternal organizations have played a vital role in every phase of the African American experience.One such organization is the Improved Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks of the World (IBPOEW). Currently boasting 500,000 members in over 1,500 lodges worldwide, the IBPOEW is the largest Black fraternal organization in the world. The IBPOEW's stated purpose is "that the welfare and happiness of its members be promoted and enhanced, that nobleness of soul and goodness of heart be cultivated, that the principles or Charity, Justice, Brotherly/Sisterly Love and Fidelity be inculcated, that its members and their families be assisted and protected, [and] that the spirit of patriotism be enlivened and exalted." The Improved Benevolent Protective Order of Elks of the World was granted a copyright as an organization on 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 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. As the Elks prevailed, the organization struggled against many racist attitudes and legal efforts to deny the existence of the Improved Benevolent 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.A few of the major departments of the Elks are the Grand Lodge Education Department, History Department, Medical Department, Veterans Affairs Department, National Youth Department, Civil Liberties Department, Antlered Guard Department, and the Hobson R. Reynolds National Shrine Department. Through the efforts of its members and various departments, the Elks sponsor extensive educational scholarship programs, youth summer computer literacy camps, and children with special needs, parades and unequaled community service activities throughout the world.