Why Is Albert Einstein’s History With The African American Civil Rights Movement Forgotten?

Although Albert Einstein is widely known for his contributions to the field of physics and his involvement in the American effort to construct a nuclear bomb, the famed Jewish scientist was far from limited to these two fields when it came to sharing his stunning mind.

Albert was also a philosopher, and that was part of the reason he had such a sharpened sense of racial equality even when the concept was far from its fruition in the United States. One example of Einstein’s commitment to the black civil right struggle can be found in a column that he wrote on the subject for famed black academic W.E.B. Du Bois’ periodical The Crisis, recently shared by Brain Pickings.

“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… come to regard people like themselves as inferior… The determined effort of the American Negroes in this direction deserves every recognition and assistance.”

Some of Albert’s other statements on the issue of racial equality would still prove controversial to some today. Einstein gave a speech on the topic at Pennsylvania’s Lincoln University in 1946. Stunned by the segregation that he saw in the United States after fleeing growing prejudice in Germany, Albert called racism a disease of white people, reported Snopes.

“There is a 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.”

Even though Einstein’s reputation for actively trying to upheave racial discrimination against blacks has been largely pushed aside, it certainly wasn’t because Albert was quiet about it during his lifetime. In fact, Einstein was friends with several of the major figures in advances for African American civil rights at the time. According to Harvard Gazette, Albert offered his home to world-renowned black singer Marian Anderson when she was refused local hotel accommodation. Members of the Princeton community even still remember him making a point to engage with black citizens who were largely segregated from the community.

For further information on Albert Einstein’s involvement in the black civil rights movement, you can read Fred Jerome and and Rodger Taylor’s book Einstein On Race and Racism.

[Image via Getty Images]

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