port of harlem snippets

August 26 - September 8, 2005


Einstein on Race and Racism

Albert EinsteinFred Jerome and Rodger Taylor unearthed a wealth of writings by Albert Einstein on the topic of race that society has previously ignored.  “Although Einstein’s anti-racist activities are less known than his efforts on behalf of international peace and scientific cooperation, he spoke vigorously against racism,” says Jerome.  “He admired and collaborated with Paul Robeson and W.E.B. DuBois,” continued the researcher and writer.  Einstein is best known for his general theory of relativity.

Einstein’s public response to American racism first occurred while he was living in Berlin.  He was one of many Germans who formed a committee to save the Scottsboro Boys.  The German-born Jew co-chaired with Paul Robeson the American Crusade to End Lynching.  He also protested the frame-up and execution of Willie McGee in Mississippi.   His article “To American Negroes,” appeared in the 1932 issue of The Crisis, then edited by W.E.B. DuBois.

Jerome and Taylor contend that one explanation for this historical amnesia is that Einstein’s biographers avoided controversial topics, fearing that mention of these details might tarnish the feel-good impression his image lends to science, history, and America.  Racism is America’s “worst disease,” the 1921 Nobel Prize winner for Physics once said.

The most elusive statement by Einstein says the authors, was a 1946 speech he gave at historically Black Lincoln University.   Though they could not find the speech, they did find extensive reports on that speech, including quotes, in the Black press.  (Rutgers University Press, $23.95)

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