A new book by Fred Jerome & Rodger Taylor, Einstein on Race and Racism, fleshes out the historical record on Dr. Einstein’s anti-racist work. The most amazing thing is that, apart from a few quotes, the work that Einstein did on race has been largely forgotten by the public, and obliterated from popular historical accounts of his life.
The avalanche of Einstein images – genius, brilliant, absent-minded, kindly, bumbling and more – has all but buried Einstein’s political dimension, and totally covered up his civil-rights activities which have remained virtually unknown to his tens of millions of fans and followers.
… Einstein and Paul Robeson, two of the 20th Century’s most famous and popular figures, were not only friends but co-chaired the American Crusade to End Lynching and shared a dozen other anti-racist activities ….
Yet, despite Einstein’s clear intention to make his politics public – especially his anti-lynching and other antiracist activities – the history-molders have seemed embarrassed to do so. Or nervous. “I had to think about my Board,” a museum curator (who doesn’t want his name used even today) said, explaining why he had omitted some of the scientist’s political statements from the major exhibition celebrating Einstein’s one hundredth birthday in 1979.
Racism in America depends for its survival in large part on the smothering of anti-racist voices, especially when those voices come from popular and widely respected individuals – like Albert Einstein. This book, then. aspires to be part of a grand un-smothering.