Einstein on Race and Racism

Einstein on Race and Racism

Book - 2005
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Nearly fifty years after his death, Albert Einstein remains one of America's foremost cultural icons. A thicket of materials, ranging from scholarly to popular, have been written, compiled, produced, and published about his life and his teachings. Among the ocean of Einsteinia-scientific monographs, biographies, anthologies, bibliographies, calendars, postcards, posters, and Hollywood films-however, there is a peculiar void when it comes to the connection that the brilliant scientist had with the African American community. Nowhere is there any mention of his close relationship with Paul Robeson, despite Einstein's close friendship with him, or W.E.B. Du Bois, despite Einstein's support for him.

This unique volume is the first to bring together a wealth of writings by the scientist on the topic of race. Although his activism in this area is less well known than his efforts on behalf of international peace and scientific cooperation, Einstein spoke out vigorously against racism both in the United States and around the world. Fred Jerome and Rodger Taylor suggest that one explanation for this historical amnesia is that Einstein's biographers avoided "controversial" topics, such as his friendships with African Americans and his political activities, including his involvement as co-chair of an antilynching campaign, fearing that mention of these details may tarnish the feel-good impression his image lends topics of science, history, and America.

Combining the scientist's letters, speeches, and articles with engaging narrative and historical discussions that place his public statements in the context of his life and times, this important collection not only brings attention to Einstein's antiracist public activities, but also provides insight into the complexities of antiracist culture in America. The volume also features a selection of candid interviews with African Americans who knew Einstein as children.

For a man whose words and reflections have influenced so many, it is long overdue that Einstein's thoughts on this vital topic are made easily accessible to the general public.

Publisher: New Brunswick, N.J. : Rutgers University Press, [2005]
Copyright Date: ©2005
ISBN: 9780813536170
Branch Call Number: 530.092 Ei68J 2005
Characteristics: xii, 206 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 23 cm
Additional Contributors: Taylor, Rodger 1953-

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oldhag Jun 24, 2012

Odd that this book is catalogued "YA" (Young Adult). I was astounded to learn that Einstein was invited to become the president of Israel: 'Einstein said he had been opposed to the Jewish State in the beginning. He had been in favor of a bi-national state'." "Einstein became an official American on October 1, 1940". In the same year, at the New York's World's Fair in Flushing Meadow, Einstein gave a speech in which he remarked: "As for the Negroes, the country has still a heavy debt to discharge for all the troubles and disabilities it has laid on the Negro's shoulders, for all that his fellow-citizens have done and to some extent still are doing to him". In a speech to Lincoln University on May 3, 1946, Einstein said: "There is separation of colored people from white people in the United States. That separation is not a disease of colored people. It is a disease of white people. I do not intend to be quiet about it." In a message to the National Urban League Convention on September 16, 1946, Einstein wrote: "The worst disease under which the society of our nation suffers, is, in my opinion, the treatment of the Negro. Everyone who is not used from childhood to this injustice suffers from the mere observation. Everyone who freshly learns of this state of affairs at a maturer age, feels not only the injustice, but the scorn of the principle of the Fathers who founded the United States that 'all men are created equal'." In an article published in 1947, Einstein wrote: "There is...a somber point in the social outlook of Americans. Their sense of equality and human dignity is mainly limited to men of white skins....The more I feel an American, the more this situation pains me. I can escape the feeling of complicity in it only by speaking out." "On March 22, 1947, Truman issued Executive Order 9835 requiring every federal employee to undergo political screening [by] J. Edgar Hoover's FBI." "More than a million employees a year were investigated about what they believe, what groups they belong to, who their friends are, and what they read". (Reminds me of today's requirement that politicians paste a U.S. flag pin [made in China?] in their lapel. In October, 1948, in an interview that he gave to the "Cheyney Record" the student newspaper of Cheyney University, Einstein said: "Democracy, taken in its narrower, purely political, sense suffers from the fact that those in economic and political power possess the means for molding public opinion to serve their own class interests" (equally apt today). On February 12, 1950, Einstein warned against: the 'concentration of tremendous financial power...[and] the close supervision of the loyalty of citizens..." Having previously made the acquaintance of Paul Robeson and W.E.B. DuBois, Einstein's warning was prescient. "One month later...Paul Robeson became the first American to be banned from television..." One year later, DuBois was on trial for refusing to cooperate with "Washington's anti-Soviet, anticommunist" investigating committees. "Einstein quickly volunteered to testify as a defense witness in Du Bois's federal trial". "Confronted with the prospect of international publicity that would have resulted from Einstein's testimony, the judge dismissed the case...". In the preface, the authors note: "Racism in America depends for its survival in large part on the smothering of antiracist voices, especially when those voices come from popular and widely respected individuals-like Albert Einstein.


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oldhag Jun 24, 2012

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