Rhecha R. Ross as he appeared in the early 1960s.
The Strangest Names In American Political History's Black History month theme continues, and in the case of Michigan Republican Rhecha Robert Ross, obscurity again prevails. While he may have run several candidacies for political office in his native Michigan, there is a pronounced lack of sources giving note as to the particulars of Ross' life, including his formative years, education, and marriage. The son of Robert and Anna Ross, Rhecha Robert Ross was born in South Carolina in 1907.
Ross is recorded with his family as a resident of Spartanburg County, South Carolina in the U.S. Census of 1910. Following his removal to Michigan at an unknown date, Ross was employed as a factory worker for General Motors Corporation for an indeterminate period. Despite the distinct lack of sources regarding Ross, a 1941 edition of the Detroit Tribune shines some light on a decidedly non-political aspect of his life--singing. Remarked as an "outstanding young tenor", Ross performed at the Detroit Insitute of Arts in early 1941, and also gave recitals at several white and black churches in his city. The Tribune would further relate that the:
"Followers of the vocalist say that he possesses a voice of unusual quality and vibrance and that his years of study have not robbed him of his naturalness and interprative ability."In addition to performing, Ross was an "announcer, soloist, and music director" for a religious radio program in the mid-1940s, titled "Signs of the Times". Ross would continue his singing career after entering politics, and in 1956 is noted as having a choral group, "the Charioteers", which performed at a homecoming gathering at Detroit's New Testament Baptist Church.
From the Detroit Free Press, August 1, 1954.
Ross launched his first bid for statewide office in 1954 when he entered into the Republican primary race for state senator from Michigan's 4th senatorial district. In August 1954 he came up short in the vote count, polling 1,329 votes to John McLeod's winning total of 7,986. Undeterred, Ross made another bid for a state senate seat in the August 1960 Republican primary and would place third in the vote count on election day. This year would also see him lose the contest for Republican presidential elector from Michigan.
With three losing candidacies behind him, Ross was afforded a measure of consolation with his service as a member of the Michigan Republican State Central Committee, of which he was a member for over two decades. In March 1965 he was elected as secretary of the Rules and Regulations Committee for that body, becoming the first of his race to be so honored.
In 1966 Rhecha Ross announced his bid for a seat in Congress, and won the Republican nomination that year, unopposed. Hoping to oust Democratic U.S. Representative John Conyers (1929-2019), Ross did not fare well on election day, being trounced by Conyers, 89,808 votes to 16,853. Despite this lopsided contest, Ross attempted one further candidacy in 1970, being an unsuccessful aspirant for the Michigan state senate from the 8th senatorial district. Little else is known of Ross' life after 1970, excepting notice of his death at age 72 on January 5, 1980. A burial location for him remains unknown at this time.
From the Detroit Tribune, March 27, 1965.
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