Ross overlooks three million African Americans

In ch. 60 of his book Amerikas Schicksalsstunde (1935) Ross proposed to segregrate a portion of the African American population in a southern state or two, while deporting the rest to the West Indies. 

Besides being untroubled by moral considerations in solving the so-called Negerfrage, Ross was apparently unaware of the major demographic changes that were going on among the African American population. Had he consulted the referenced contemporary statistical source based on the 1930 US Census, he would have noticed the decrease of the southern rural African American population and an increase of African Americans in some of the northern and western geographic entities the Census distinguishes: the Middle Atlantic section (New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania), the East North Central section (Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin), as well as California between 1920 and 1930. Even though unbeknown to Ross when he wrote Amerikas Schicksalsstunde, statistical sources based on the 1940 US Census show the continuation of this trend between 1930 and 1940, with an increase of the African American population in New England, particularly Massachusetts and Connecticut, the Middle Atlantic states New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, and the East North Central states Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin, as well as  California.1 

All this, of course, reflects what has been called the Great Migration. This demographic phenomenon is commonly dated between 1915 and 1970, when c. six million African Americans moved from the southern to the northern states—half that number by the end of the 1930s—, a process much more massive than their relocation to a few northern cities after the Civil War. This, then, is the south in which Ross wanted to segregate the African American population, a ‘solution’ that ran counter to a major trend.2 

Interestingly, a contemporary source, German travel writer Arthur Holitscher’s account of his trip in the USA (an excerpt of which, titled ‘Der Neger in USA’, was compiled together with an excerpt of Ross’s work in the book Spiegel der Welt [1930]3), was aware of the migration, of both domestic and foreign blacks living in the western hemisphere, to the industrial centers of the northern states as soon as the US entered World War I.

Nico de Klerk

Topic: Race
Case: American journeys

See also

in Mind Map


1 See e.g. Statistical abstract of the United States 1944-1945. Washington, D.C.: Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census; 1945; 20-22, tables 18, 19,

2 For an overview of the Great Migration, see: Ira Berlin. The making of African America: the four great migrations. Viking: New York; 2010; 152-200. See also: Henry Louis Gates, Jr.  Escaped and free blacks. In: The African Americans. Many rivers to cross. [New York]: WNET; 2013 [accessed on 2017 January 24]. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. The Great Migration: a mass movement north. In: The African Americans. Many rivers to cross. [New York]: WNET; 2013 [accessed on 2017 January 24],

3 Arthur Holitscher. Der Neger in USA. In: Jes Petersen (ed.), Spiegel der Welt. Ein Buch von der Erde, ihren Landschaften und ihren Bewohnern mit Texten, Bildern und Karten wie man sie gerne sieht und liest. Berlin-Lichterfelde: Columbus; n.d. [1930]; 75-80.

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