I am not positive about brother rats remarks but I do believe they may have been racist in nature.
The Order of the Eastern Star is the largest fraternal organization in the world that both men and women can join. It was established in 1850 by Robert Morris, a lawyer and educator from Boston, Massachusetts who had been an official with the Freemasons. It is based on teachings from the Bible, but is open to people of all monotheistic faiths. It has approximately 10,000 chapters in twenty countries and approximately one million members under its General Grand Chapter. Members of the Order are aged 18 and older; men must be Master Masons and women must have specific relationships with Masons. Originally, a woman would have to be the daughter, widow, wife, sister, or mother of a master Mason, but the Order now allows other relatives as well as allowing Rainbow Girls to become members when they come of age.
The emblem of the Order is a five-pointed star representing the Star of Bethlehem. In the Chapter room, the downward-pointing white ray points to the West. The character-building lessons taught in the Order are stories inspired by Biblical figures:
Adah (Jephthah's daughter, from Judges)
Ruth, the widow
Esther, the wife
Martha (sister of Lazarus, from the Gospel of John)
Electa (the "elect lady", from II John), the mother
There are 18 main officers in a full chapter:
Worthy Matron - presiding officer
Worthy Patron - provides general supervision
Associate Matron - assumes the duties of the Worthy Matron in the absence of that officer
Associate Patron - assumes the duties of the Worthy Patron in the absence of that officer
Conductress - Leads visitors and initiations.
Associate Conductress - Assists with introductions and handles ballot box.
Chaplain - leads the Chapter in prayer
Warder - Sits next to the door inside the meeting room, to make sure those that enter the chapter room are members of the Order.
Sentinel - Sits next to the door outside the chapter room, to make sure those that wish to enter are members of the Order.
Traditionally, a woman who is elected Associate Conductress will the following year be elected to Conductress, then the next year Associate Matron, and the next year Worthy Matron. A man elected Associate Patron will usually the next year be elected Worthy Patron. Usually the woman who is elected to become Associate Matron will let it be known who she wishes to be her Associate Patron, so the next year they will both go to the East together as Worthy Matron and Worthy Patron. There is no male counterpart to the Conductress and Associate Conductress. Only women are allowed to be Matrons, Conductresses, and the Star Points (Adah, Ruth, etc.) and only men can be Patrons.
The Order has a charitable foundation and from 1986-2001 contributed $513,147 to Alzheimer's disease research, juvenile diabetes research, and juvenile asthma research. It also provides bursaries to students of theology and religious music, as well as other scholarships that differ by jurisdiction. In 2000 over $83,000 was donated. Many jurisdictions support a Masonic and/or Eastern Star retirement center or nursing home for older members; some homes are also open to the public. They also often make charitable contributions in their local communities, presented low key without much fan-fare.
The Order is not to be confused with the Order of the Star of the East, a messianic organization created in 1911 by the Theosophical Society - Adyar and dissolved in 1929 by J. Krishnamurti.
On December 1, 1875, Queen Esther Chapter No. 1 became the first Prince Hall Affiliate chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star
Prince Hall Freemasonry derives from historical events which led to a tradition of separate, predominantly African-American, Freemasonic fraternal organization in North America. Prince Hall Masonry has always been regular in all respects except constitutional separation.
On March 6, 1775, an African American named Prince Hall was made a Master Mason in Irish Constitution Military Lodge No. 441, along with fourteen other African Americans: Cyrus Johnston, Bueston Slinger, Prince Rees, John Canton, Peter Freeman, Benjamin Tiler, Duff Ruform, Thomas Santerson, Prince Rayden, Cato Speain, Boston Smith, Peter Best, Forten Horward, and Richard Titley, all of whom were free by birth. When the Military Lodge left the area, the African Americans were given the authority to meet as a Lodge, form Processions on the days of the Saints John, and conduct Masonic funerals, but not to confer degrees nor to do other Masonic work. These individuals applied for and obtained a Warrant for Charter from the Grand Lodge of England in 1784 and formed African Lodge #459.
By 1787 there were at least 73 African-American Masons in Massachusetts, who petitioned the legislature with their "desire to return to Africa, our native country . . . for which the God of nature has formed us.". The Huntingdonian minister John Marrant preached to the Prince Hall Lodge on June 24, 1789. His Nova Scotia congregation was significant in the successful agitation for repatriation by Black Loyalists as well as the subsequent revolt which occurred in Sierra Leone in 1800.
Despite being stricken from the rolls (like all American Grand Lodges were after the 1813 merger of the Antients and the Moderns) the Lodge restyled itself as African Lodge #1 (not to be confused with the various Grand Lodges on the Continent of Africa), and separated itself from United Grand Lodge of England-recognised Masonry. This led to a tradition of separate, predominantly African American jurisdictions in North America, which are known collectively as Prince Hall Freemasonry. Widespread racism and segregation in North America made it impossible for African Americans to join many mainstream lodges, and many mainstream Grand Lodges in North America refused to recognize as legitimate the Prince Hall Lodges and Prince Hall Masons in their territory.
Presently, Prince Hall Masonry is recognized by some UGLE-recognized Grand Lodges and not by others, and appears to be working its way toward full recognition. It is no longer unusual for traditional lodges to have significant African-American membership.
According to data compiled in 2005, 38 out of 51 US mainstream Grand Lodges recognize Prince Hall Grand Lodges.
In 1809 the Prince Hall Grand Master of African Lodge #459 was George Middleton (died 1816) of Boston. He was a member of the Bucks of America a unit of black soldiers during the American Revolution who were at the Battle of Groton Heights, Connecticut in 1781. This unit received a flag from Governor John Hancock. Middleton was also a founder of the African Benevolent Society. His house is preserved in Boston, Massachusetts.