A Black economist met with Hitler before he became chancellor

A Ph.D. economist from Wilberforce College is believed to be the only Black person who ever met Adolph Hitler before he was named German chancellor six months later.

Milton S.J. Wright spent four hours with Hitler in Heidelberg in 1932 after Wright had completed his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Heidelberg, according to Black Past.

During the conversation with Hitler, he asked Wright questions, but Hitler answered most of the questions himself. 

Hitler pointed out that American Blacks have no voting rights, and  he criticized them for being docile about oppression, saying negroes must be third-class people to allow whites to lynch them, beat them, and segregate them without rising to fight them.”

The Pittsburgh Courier, a weekly newspaper, published a front-page story in 1934 about Wright’s conversation with Hitler. The story, written by J.D. Rogers, a Jamaican author, and journalist, was headlined “He Talked With Hitler!”

Hitler also told Wright he respected Booker T. Washington, an American educator, author, orator,

and adviser to several U.S. presidents. 

Ironically, Hitler also said he admired Paul Robeson, a  national symbol and cultural leader in the war against fascism abroad and racism at home.  

Wright’s meeting with Hitler occurred in extraordinary circumstances. 

He jokingly told friends that he would be willing to assassinate Hitler. The next day, two SS (Schutzstaffel or Protection Squads) guards knocked on his door and escorted him to a hotel in Heidelberg where Hitler was staying. 

Wright was fluent in German. He said Hitler was surprisingly courteous, and after the meeting ended, Hitler said he wanted to meet again in Munich, but the meeting never occurred. Before they parted, Hitler gave Wright an autographed photo.

Wright graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Wilberforce University in Ohio in 1926; he earned a master’s degree from Columbia University in 1928.

He was chairman of the Department and Economics and Political Science. In 1959, he was named dean of the college. He died March 11, 1972, in Xenia, Ohio. He was 68.