Einstein on Race and Racism

by
Fred Jerome and Rodger Taylor


 

O

n January 30, 1933, the day Hitler and the Nazis took over the German government, the most famous scientist in the world may also have been the luckiest. Albert Einstein and his wife Elsa were away from their Berlin home on a visit to Pasadena, California – his third winter there as a guest faculty member at Caltech. The Einsteins had planned to return home in the spring, but that was before January 30. Within a few months, the Nazi regime made it clear that Einstein was still alive primarily because he was not in Germany.

Einstein, more than any other scientist, arguably more than any other human being, by his very existence – a genius who was also a Jew, a democrat and, later, a socialist – gave the lie to Hitler’s Nazi theories.

Even before the Nazis started calling themselves Nazis (before Hitler’s National Socialist Party emerged in the mid 1920s), right-wing German nationalists had targeted Einstein for attack: Some of these Nationalists took to waiting for Einstein outside his apartment on Haberlandstrasse, or his office in the Prussian Academy of Science, and shouting denunciations of “Jewish science” as soon as the familiar figure appeared. Others filled his mailbox with obscene and threatening letters. On one occasion, a gang of right-wing students disrupted Einstein’s lecture at Berlin University and one of them shouted, “I’m going to cut the throat of that dirty Jew.” An anti-Semitic demagogue named Rudolph Leibus was arrested [in 1921] – and fined the trivial sum of sixteen dollars – for offering a reward to anyone who would assassinate the hated scientist.

And while he was invited to speak and hailed by audiences around the world – one trip took the Einsteins to China, Japan, Palestine, and Spain, where they were cheered by hundreds of thousands -- in Germany, a group calling itself the Committee of German Scientists for the Preservation of Pure Scholarship launched an attack on Einstein, labeling the Theory of Relativity “a Jewish perversion.” Even in winning the Nobel Prize in 1921, Einstein faced anti-Semitism.[1]

For several years in the mid 1920s, public anti-Semitism subsided and the ultra-Nationalists lowered their profile as the German economy steadied with substantial economic aid from the US and England. But towards the end of the decade, the economy faltered, and the far-right flexed its political and paramilitary muscles. Hitler’s Aryan-supremacy racism infected millions of Germans seeking scapegoats for their economic difficulties and loss of international influence. And when the worldwide economic depression of 1929 brought rampant unemployment and inflation to Germany, it also brought the Nazis a large, disgruntled base of potential recruits. The Nazi Party, led by Hitler, had first made headlines in 1923 with its “Beer Hall Putsch,” a failed attempt at taking over the government in the German state of Bavaria. Following the “Putsch,” the Party grew slowly, and by 1929 they had 12 representatives in the Reichstag (the German Congress). The impact of the economic depression and the success of Nazi propaganda brought a sudden surge of Nazi votes in the 1930 elections, increasing their Reichstag seats to 107.

Nazi street-gangs launched increasingly violent attacks against Hitler’s enemies, especially leftists and Jews. As one historian put it, “To ready the ground for the Nazi rise to ultimate power, the party raised the level of violence witnessed by ordinary Germans with each passing month.” An incident on June 10, 1932, was typical of the strategy. That afternoon, several hundred members of the Nazi SA and SS private armies invaded the working-class district of Berlin-Wedding, blocked the ends of a stretch of road chanting anti-Semitic slogans and attacking anyone luckless enough to be out and about. The Nazis beat up some thirty locals, including several old people and one pregnant woman, who was hospitalized in dire condition.

There was no question about the identity of the Nazis’ number one target. Their hostility, in the words of Philipp Frank, “was concentrated to an astonishing and…frightening degree against Einstein.” In 1929, a Leipzig publishing house issued a book titled One Hundred Authors against Einstein. The book itself had little impact, “but it was a warning,” according to Levenson. Attacks against prominent Jews may have faded during the stabilized mid-1920s, “but now…the threat was back.” A friend who visited Einstein in Germany in 1930, described the growing signs of anti-Semitism – “Many Jewish shops had been sacked” – and reported that the scientist, “for all his serenity, was anxious.” 

The threats against Einstein increased as Hitler came closer to power.  A local baker in Caputh, the village near Potsdam where the Einsteins had built a summer house, began to complain loudly to his customers about the scientist’s “Jewish house.” In late spring 1932, the scientist stopped walking alone, and their friend Antonina Vallentin warned Elsa that to “leave Einstein in Germany was to perpetrate a murder.”  Just before he and Elsa left Germany for the last time in December 1932, he received a “friendly warning” from a top German General that his life “is not safe here any more.”

Officially, the Einsteins were departing for one more semester abroad and planned to return to Berlin in the spring. Einstein told the NY Times, “I am not abandoning Germany…My permanent home will still be in Berlin.” But he may have had a suspicion they would not return: When the steamer Oakland left Bremerhaven on December 10, 1932, it carried the Einsteins and thirty pieces of luggage. It was, as Einstein’s friend and biographer Abraham Pais put it, “a little excessive for a three months’ absence.”

In America, Einstein was quickly vilified by the German state. He was assailed as the chief of a secret anti-Nazi movement, sometimes described as “communistic,” sometimes as the “Jewish International.” On March 23, the Third Reich barred Jews and Communists from teaching in universities, working as lawyers or in civil service jobs. Scientists, especially Jewish scientists, were a special target for the regime that preached Aryan supremacy. One Nazi pedagogical leader put it plainly: It is not science that must be restricted, but rather the scientific investigators and teachers; only men who have pledged their entire personality to the nation, to the racial conception of the world will teach and carry on research at the German universities.

The Nazis repeatedly raided the Einsteins’ Berlin apartment, seized all their belongings, and froze their bank account. In March, Nazi SA agents ransacked their summer house in Caputh, searching for a secret cache of weapons “allegedly hidden there by Communists,” and intended for an anti-Nazi uprising. When they found no weapons – “all they found was a bread knife,” the NY Times reported – they confiscated the house, anyway, declaring it was “obviously” about to be sold to finance subversive activities.

Einstein was suddenly a refugee. Even if he might – miraculously – have survived a return to Germany, he told the press:  “As long as I have any choice in the matter, I shall live only in a country where civil liberty, tolerance and equality of all citizens before the law prevail… These conditions do not exist in Germany at the present time.”

But the Einsteins did return to Europe in the spring and summer of 1933, spending several months in the Belgian coastal town of Le Coq-sur-Mer for rest and reconsideration of future plans. On hearing that Nazi newspapers had put a price of $5,000 on his head, Einstein quipped, “I didn’t know I was worth so much.” Nonetheless, the death threats were serious: During his stay at Le Coq, the Belgian government assigned two 24-hour bodyguards to protect him from a reported Nazi assassination team. And when the Hitler regime issued an official book of photos of “Enemies of the State,” the caption under Einstein’s photo read: Noch Ungehängt – Not Yet Hanged. Einstein was also wanted – but alive and thinking – by leading institutions of learning around the world. Several European universities, including Oxford, Paris, Madrid and Leiden, offered Einstein faculty positions, as did the newly-established – and well-funded – Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.[2] Einstein felt at home in Europe, but, as author and physicist C. P. Snow, explains, the choice of where to settle was, to a large extent out of his hands:

He was himself Hitler’s greatest public enemy… He was a brave man, but if he returned [to Germany], he would be killed…. Belgium suited him. He was more comfortable in small cozy countries (Holland was his favorite), but he wasn’t safe from the Nazis. Unwillingly, he set off on his travels again, [and moved] to Princeton….

It was a kind of exile. There is no doubt that he, who had never recognized any place as home, sometimes longed for the sounds and smells of Europe. Nevertheless, it was in America that he reached his full wisdom and his full sadness.

Before leaving Germany, Einstein was not only an outspoken critic of the Nazis, but he had begun to speak out against racism in America – the parallel to Nazi anti-Semitism and Aryan-Superman theory was hard to miss. In 1931, W. E. B. Du Bois, a founder of the NAACP and editor of its magazine, The Crisis, wrote to Einstein, still living in Berlin:

Sir:

I am taking the liberty of sending you herewith some copies of THE CRISIS magazine. THE CRISIS is published by American Negroes and in defense of the citizenship rights of 12 million people descended from the former slaves of this country. We have just reached our 21st birthday. I am writing to ask if in the midst of your busy life you could find time to write us a word about the evil of race prejudice in the world. A short statement from you of 500 to 1,000 words on this subject would help us greatly in our continuing fight for freedom.

With regard to myself, you will find something about me in “Who’s Who in America.” I was formerly a student of Wagner and Schmoller in the University of Berlin.

                        I should greatly appreciate word from you.

                                                                                          Very sincerely yours,

                                                                                             W. E. B. Du Bois 

Einstein replied on October 29, 1931:

My Dear Sir!

Please find enclosed a short contribution for your newspaper. Because of my excessive workload I could not send a longer explanation.

With Distinguished respect,

                                                                                                Albert Einstein

To American Negroes

A Note from the Editor [Dr. Du Bois]:

The author, Albert Einstein, is a Jew of German nationality. He was born in Wurttemburg in 1879 and educated in Switzerland. He has been Professor of Physics at Zurich and Prague and is at present director of the Kaiser-Wilhelm Physical Institute at Berlin. He is a member of the Royal Prussian Academy of Science and of the British Royal Society. He received the Nobel Prize in 1921 and the Copley Medal in 1925.

Einstein is a genius in higher physics and ranks with Copernicus, Newton and Kepler. His famous theory of Relativity, advanced first in 1905, is revolutionizing our explanation of physical phenomenon and our conception of Motion, Time and Space.

But Professor Einstein is not a mere mathematical mind. He is a living being, sympathetic with all human advance. He is a brilliant advocate of disarmament and world Peace and he hates race prejudice because as a Jew he knows what it is. At our request, he has sent this word to THE CRISIS with “Ausgezeichneter Hochachtung” (“Distinguished respect”):

It seems to be a universal fact that minorities, especially when their Individuals are recognizable because of physical differences, are treated by majorities among whom they live as an inferior class. The tragic part of such a fate, however, lies not only in the automatically realized disadvantage suffered by these minorities in economic and social relations, but also in the fact that those who meet such treatment themselves for the most part acquiesce in the prejudiced estimate because of the suggestive influence of the majority, and come to regard people like themselves as inferior. This second and more important aspect of the evil can be met through closer union and conscious educational enlightenment among the minority, and so emancipation of the soul of the minority can be attained.

The determined effort of the American Negroes in this direction deserves every recognition and assistance.

Albert Einstein

Du Bois’ request for a message from Einstein revealed that the African American scholar had a flare for public relations. Einstein’s article brought The Crisis a rare, if small, headline in the NY Times: EINSTEIN HAILS NEGRO RACE. Nearly twenty years later, another Einstein-Du Bois correspondence would bring even more momentous results, but in the fearful 1950s, there would be no press coverage. On the eve of Einstein’s move to America he joined the international campaign to save “the Scottsboro Boys,” nine African American teen-agers from Alabama, falsely accused of rape – eight of them sentenced to death in 1931. For Einstein, the Scottsboro Defense was the first of several protests against racial injustice in the American legal system. For J. Edgar Hoover and his FBI, it was the first “Communist Front” listed in Einstein’s file.

Einstein joined with Paul Robeson, W. E. B. Du Bois and the Civil Rights Congress. Indeed, almost every civil-rights group Einstein endorsed after 1946, including the Council on African Affairs cited earlier, had Robeson in the leadership. Perhaps because Einstein had seen the Nazis use the “Communist” scare tactic, he did not shrink from Robeson’s red glare. Like Robeson, the CRC had close ties to the Communist Party. While defending Rosa Lee Ingram, Willie McGee, the Martinsville Seven and other African Americans they saw as victims of “racist frame-ups,” the CRC also supported the more than one hundred CP officials jailed under the Smith Act[3] during the McCarthy/Hoover period. CRC statements pointed to Hitler’s Germany where the Nazis had first rounded up the Communists while most liberals shrugged from what they thought was a safe distance.[4] It was a historical parallel Einstein agreed with. “The fear of Communism,” he declared at the height of the McCarthy era, “has led to practices which have become incomprehensible to the rest of civilized mankind…”                                          

His outspokenness on civil rights included a virtually unknown 1948 interview with the Cheyney Record, student newspaper at a then-small Black college (Cheyney State) in Pennsylvania: “Race prejudice has unfortunately become an American tradi­tion which is uncritically handed down from one generation to the next,” Einstein declared. That he did the interview is hardly surprising, given Einstein’s previous visit to Lincoln University and his openness in talking and writing to young people. More surprising, however, is Einstein’s statement in the same interview, “The only remedies [to racism] are enlightenment and education. This is a slow and painstaking process in which all right-thinking people should take part.”

Shortly after the Cheyney interview, Einstein continued his organizational network by sending a message to the “Southwide Conference on Discrimination in Higher Education” held at Atlanta University in 1950, and sponsored by the Southern Conference Educational Fund. With the Red-scare, Congressional investigating committees like HUAC had red-baited virtually any southern group that called for integration, and driven many of them out of existence. The Highlander Folk School, where Rosa Parks took part in interracial discussions during the summer before her famous arrest for refusing to move to the back of a Montgomery, Alabama bus, was one of the few organizations that managed to survive. Another was the Southern Conference Educational Fund.

Four years before Brown v. Board of Education, SCEF sponsored a rare integrated conference in the South (albeit at a Black university) to oppose racism in southern universities.[5] In his greeting to the group, Einstein wrote:

If an individual commits an injustice he is harassed by his conscience. But nobody is apt to feel responsible for misdeeds of a community, in particular, if they are supported by old traditions. Such is the case with discrimination. Every right-minded person will be grateful to you for having united to fight this evil that so grievously injures the dignity and the repute of our country. Only by spreading education among all of our people can we approach the ideals of democracy. 

Your fight is not easy, but in the end, you will succeed.

Perhaps Einstein’s most effective civil-rights action was testimony he didn’t actually give. At the start of 1951, the Federal Government indicted W. E. B. Du Bois, then chairman of the Peace Information Center, and four of the group’s other officers, for failing to register as “foreign agents.” The government’s principal charge was that the Peace Information Center – described by historian Robin D. G. Kelley as an “antinuclear, anti-Cold War” group – had committed the “overt act” of circulating the Stockholm Peace Petition. The petition declared:

We demand the outlawing of atomic weapons as instruments of intimidation and mass murder of people. 

We demand strict international control to enforce this measure.

We believe that any government which first uses atomic weapons against any other country whatsoever will be committing a crime against humanity and should be dealt with as a war criminal.

We call on all men and women of goodwill throughout the world to sign this appeal.

Several millions people signed the worldwide peace petition initiated in 1950 by the Stockholm-based, pro-Soviet World Peace Council. HUAC denounced it as “the most extensive piece of psychological warfare ever conducted on a world scale…a smoke screen for [Communist] aggression.” If one needs a single image to represent McCarthyism in America, it might well be the picture of W. E. B. Du Bois in 1951 facing a judge in a Federal courtroom – the world-renowned black scholar, at the age of 83, goateed, short in height but standing unbent, wearing a pinstriped, three-piece suit and handcuffs. Like Robeson, Du Bois had refused to go along with Washington’s anti-Soviet, anti-Communist policies, refused to cooperate with Congressional investigating committees, had his passport suspended, and had been ousted from the NAACP.

Shortly after the Federal indictment, Einstein sent Du Bois a copy of his just-published book, Out of My Later Years – it was almost exactly twenty years after Einstein had first heard from Du Bois and written his statement for The Crisis. In April, Du Bois wrote back and included information about his upcoming court case: “Mrs. Du Bois and I have received your autographed book with deep appreciation and will read it with pleasure and profit. I am venturing to enclose with this letter a statement on a case in which you may be interested.”

Einstein quickly volunteered to testify as a Defense witness in Du Bois Federal trial. To give Einstein’s appearance in court the maximum impact, defense attorney Vito Marcantonio[6] held back the announcement until the last minute. In a rare, first-hand account, Shirley Graham Du Bois, describes the judge’s response:

The prosecution rested its case during the morning of November 20… Marcantonio…told the judge that only one defense witness was to be presented, Dr. Du Bois. [But] Marcantonio added casually to the judge, “Dr. Albert Einstein has offered to appear as a character witness for Dr. Du Bois.”  Judge [Matthew F.] McGuire fixed Marcantonio with a long look, and then adjourned the court for lunch. When court resumed, Judge McGuire.… granted the motion for acquittal.

Confronted with the prospect of international publicity that would have resulted from Einstein’s testimony, the judge dismissed the case for lack of evidence before the Defense had a chance to present its witnesses. Nine days later, Du Bois wrote to Einstein again:

My dear Dr. Einstein:

I write to express my deep appreciation of your generous offer to do anything that you could in the case brought against me by the Department of Justice.

I am delighted that in the end it was not necessary to call upon you and interfere with your great work and needed leisure, but my thanks for your generous attitude is not less on that account.

Mrs. Du Bois joins me in deep appreciation.

                                                                                                Very sincerely yours,

                                                                                                W. E. B. Du Bois

Einstein almost never spoke at universities during the last twenty years of his life. His increasingly frail health made travel difficult, but mainly he considered the pomp and ceremony of degree presentation to be “ostentatious.” Some may find it remarkable that Einstein chose to break his no-college rule by going not to an Ivy-League producer of prestigious degrees,[7] but to a traditionally black university. (Chartered in 1854, Lincoln was “the first institution anywhere in the world to provide a higher education in the arts and sciences for male youth of African descent.”) But for Einstein, the 60-mile trip from Princeton to Lincoln was not a casual choice. His visit was “in a worthwhile cause,” he told the assembled students and faculty. “The separation of the races [segregation],” he declared, “is not a disease of colored people, but a disease of white people,” adding, “I do not intend to be quiet about it.”

Disease? To appreciate today Einstein’s choice of the word requires examining specific symptoms of the segregation sickness so widespread in America eighty years after the Civil War. Black soldiers, as we have noted, when allowed into combat at all, fought in segregated units under white officers. To a true believer, segregation always came first – even before patriotism: Vowing never to fight “with a Negro by my side,” a 28-year-old, West Virginia lawyer – and future Senator – named Robert Byrd wrote to Mississippi’s Senator Bilbo in 1945, “Rather I should die a thousand times, and see Old Glory trampled in the dirt never to rise again, than to see this beloved land of ours become degraded by race mongrels, a throwback to the blackest specimen from the wilds.” (Byrd has since undergone a sea-change in his views on race.)

Racial segregation was the rule in most of America in May 1946, with separate and unequal public and private facilities from housing and schools to buses and beaches throughout the south and many other parts of the country, including Princeton, NJ. Some textbooks and even some documentary films have pictured the separate (and decidedly unequal) waiting rooms in Southern bus and train stations, and even the separate drinking fountains marked “colored” and “white.” But the disease went deeper. Even the blood donated to save lives was donated at racially segregated blood banks (when blacks were allowed to donate at all), with “white” and “colored” blood kept in separately labeled storage units. In 1942, in the midst of a world war, the American Red Cross met in Washington and concluded that, while there is no difference in the blood of the races, “most men of the white race objected to blood of Negroes injected into their veins.” No one apparently asked, according to one writer, “how many white soldiers, hemorrhaging from a gaping wound on the battlefield and sinking into a coma, would stop a medic from giving them the ‘wrong color’ plasma.” The policy of racially segregating blood continued in some parts of this country well into the 1960s!

The Lincoln students in Einstein’s audience, of course, knew most of this in 1946. “On Friday, May 3rd, a very simple man came to Lincoln University,” one student wrote a few days later in the school newspaper, The Lincolnian:

His emaciated face and simplicity made him appear as a biblical character. Quietly he stood with an expression of questioning wonder upon his face as…President Horace Mann Bond conferred a degree. Then this man with the long hair and deep eyes spoke into a microphone of the disease that humanity had. In the deep accents of his native Germany he said he could not be silent. And then he finished and the room was still. Later he lectured on the theory of relativity to the Lincoln students.

That night, Albert Einstein went back to Princeton…

Before returning home, Einstein had dinner at the home of Professor Laurence Foster and his family. Dr. Foster’s daughter Yvonne, shown in the photo of Einstein with children of Lincoln faculty members, recalls, “The faculty had been warned that Einstein was very shy and low-key, and, in fact, he was quiet and spoke very little at dinner, but he became amused by [her younger brother] Larry’s Pennsylvania Dutch accent and couldn’t help but smile during the conversation.” She adds: “We were honored” that during the degree-presentation ceremony, “Einstein wore Professor Phillip Miller’s academic robe and daddy’s mortarboard.”

“I was very happy to know that my boy had an opportunity to see Dr. Einstein,” one student’s mother told Lincoln’s President Bond shortly after the event. In a letter to Einstein, Bond relayed the mother’s words, adding his own thanks: “All of us are as grateful as this humble mother." Einstein’s choice of Lincoln, as well as his words, clearly seemed intended to send a message to a wider audience. But the media then — like the media since then — had different news priorities. While almost all of Einstein’s public speeches and interviews were extensively reported by major newspapers – even sticking out his tongue made the front pages – in this case, the mainstream media treated the address by the world’s most famous scientist at the nation’s oldest black university as a non-event. Only the black press gave Einstein’s speech meaningful coverage. The Philadelphia Tribune and Baltimore Afro-American carried first-hand front-page reports with photos of Einstein receiving the honorary degree from Lincoln’s President Horace Mann Bond and lecturing on relativity to Lincoln students. The Tribune’s headline, stretching across half the front page, read: EINSTEIN AWARDED PORTFOLIO in Historic Campus Ceremony.

Other black papers covering the story included the NY Age, NY Amsterdam News (“Einstein: Race Problem a Disease of ‘White Folks’”) and Pittsburgh Courier. All included photos.  No one has (yet) found a copy or transcript, or even notes, of Einstein’s speech at Lincoln, nor has it ever been quoted in the plethora of Einstein biographies and anthologies. What follows are sections of his ten-minute speech from the report in the Baltimore Afro American of May 11, 1946. The Afro-American article, by J. W. Woods, is datelined LINCOLN UNIVERSITY, Pa.:

The only possibility of preventing war is to prevent the possibility of war. International peace can be achieved only if every individual uses all of his power to exert pressure on the United States to see that it takes the leading part in world government.

The United Nations has no power to prevent war, but it can try to avoid another war. The UN will be effective only if no one neglects his duty in his private environment. If he does [neglect it], he is responsible for the death of our children in a future war.

My trip to this institution was on behalf of a worthwhile cause. There is separation of colored people from white people in the United States. That separation [segregation] is not a disease of colored people. It is a disease of white people. I do not intend to be quiet about it.

The situation of mankind today is like that of a little child who has a sharp knife and plays with it. There is no effective defense against the atomic bomb. For our own safety, we must use it on an international basis. It cannot only destroy a city but it can destroy the very earth on which that city stood.

The New York Times (May 4, 1946) carried a brief item on p. 7, with a total of one sentence about the speech: “Dr. Einstein said he believed there was ‘a great future’ for the Negro [and] asked the students ‘to work long and hard and with lasting patience.’” Assuming that was taken from the same speech (none of the reports in the black press cite or allude to that sentence or anything similar to it), it’s interesting to contrast what the Times singled out to publish with what the black press reported.

 

Notes


[1] Einstein had been nominated for the Nobel Prize in ten of the previous twelve years, 1909 – 1920, but it was only after he had been hailed as a world-renowned celebrity that the Nobel committee agreed to award him their prize. Years later, Irving Wallace, author of The Prize, interviewed Sven Hedin, one of the Nobel judges, who acknowledged that anti-Semitism had influenced the judges to vote repeatedly against an award for Einstein (Wallace, The Writing of One Novel). During the 1930s, Hedin publicly supported the Nazis and was a close friend of Göring, Himmler and Hitler.

[2] Designed from the start as a center exclusively for theoretical research, the Institute and its founder, Abraham Flexner, hoped to attract the most outstanding scholars from around the world to live, think and do research at the IAS which, although located in Princeton, would be independent from the University. Besides their obvious contrasts – the IAS was not a degree-granting institution and had no student body – one key policy difference central to this story is that the Institute – but very clearly not the University – welcomed Jewish scholars from around the world. To a large extent, the IAS reflected America’s emerging status as the leading financial and technological power in the world, and Einstein was the Institute’s most valuable asset, ensuring it immediate recognition and international prestige.

[3] The Smith Act, originally enacted in 1940, outlawed “conspiracy to teach and advocate the overthrow of the government by force and violence.” During World War II,  the Federal Government indicted several members of the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party under the Smith Act. The Communist Party made no protest against those indictments.

[4] Not all liberals shrugged. Einstein had signed an unsuccessful appeal, along with Kathe Kollwitz and Heinrich Mann, in 1932, urging the Socialists and Communists to unite behind a single slate of candidates which could have been able to defeat the fascists.

[5] If you were an African American football or basketball star at a Northern or Western university in 1950, you would almost always be left at home when your school traveled to play a Southern school. Yet signs of change were, emerging. In 1955, thousands of students in Atlanta held an unprecedented demonstration, burning effigies of Georgia Governor Griffin to demand that he permit the Georgia Tech football team to play an interracial Pittsburgh team in that year’s Sugar Bowl. (NY Times, December 4, 1955, p. 1.)

[6] Marcantonio was a popular, independent, fiery, left-wing Congressman from New York’s East Harlem, with popular support from both the Italian and Puerto Rican communities there. Among his many distinctions, he was the only member of Congress to vote against sending US troops into the 1950 Korean “Police Action.”

[7] In 1936, Einstein refused to take part in Harvard’s Tercentenary ceremony because German universities were participating.

 

This article is excerpted from a book by the authors, Einstein on Race and Racism, published in July 2005 by Rutgers University Press. The contents of this article are copyrighted by Jerome and Taylor and no use of any part may be made without their explicit consent. A full reference list of all quotations in this article may be consulted from the book, or requested from Logos editors.

 

Fred Jerome, veteran journalist and science writer, is the author of The Einstein File: J. Edgar Hoover's Secret War Against the World's Most Famous ScientistHe has taught journalism at Columbia, New York University and other New York-area universities.  Rodger Taylor, freelance writer, is supervising branch librarian of the New York Public Library.