Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2011

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

John J. Bukowczyk


This dissertation explores West Indian immigrants in the city of Detroit and their leadership of key institutions in the African American community from 1885 to 1940. This work is divided into two parts, with the Great Migration as the line of demarcation. The research method consists largely of collective biographies and a survey of periodicals, census records, and records generated by the institutions that had West Indian leaders. The dissertation concludes that West Indian immigrants perceived middle-class status and ethnicity as a means of distinguishing themselves from their African American counterparts, but race became a more significant factor as more black Americans entered the middle class.

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