Albert Einstein, a German-born theoretical physicist and philosopher of science, was also a passionate, committed anti-racist and stood for and with some of the most brilliant minds of the 20th century.
In addition to developing the general theory of relativity, his mass-energy equivalence formula (better known as E = mc2), and positioning his thoughts into one of the pillars of modern physics, Einstein was also the winner of the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics.
It is his history within the African-American community that has not had much exposure in the soon-to-be 60 years since his passing. What has been revealed has come courtesy of Fred Jerome and Rodger Taylor’s incredible book Einstein on Race and Racism (Rutgers University Press, 2006).
Throughout the 154-page recounting of Einstein’s life and legacy within the civil rights movement, readers are impressed to learn that he not only stood against racism, but delivered speeches and supported initiatives for education and against lynching.
Einstein’s efforts were routinely ignored by the mainstream press, which only highlighted his activities that weren’t geared toward an anti-racist agenda, as his collaborations with the likes of Paul Robeson,Lincoln University, and Marian Anderson are oftentimes overlooked.
Einstein Felt Blacks Were Treated The Way Jews Were In Germany
According to Jerome and Taylor, the mutual pens behind Einstein on Race and Racism, “Einstein realized that African-Americans in Princeton, N.J., were treated like Jews in Germany.” Einstein’s response to the blatant racism and segregation was to cultivate meaningful relationships within the town’s African-American community. In the book, elder blacks who still live in the town recall Einstein as a “white-haired, disheveled figure” who casually and calmly rolled through their streets, oftentimes stopping to strike up conversation with the locals, and handing out sweets to their children. Einstein lived in Princeton from 1933 until his death in 1955.
The writer William Faulkner once said, “History isn’t just a reflection of what was it’s also a reflection of what is.”