(May 19, 1994)
Albert Einstein (March 14, 1879- April 18, 1955) is most well-known for his famous Theory of General Relativity (E = mc2 ) , an aspect that is important to the field of astronomy. Written in 1915, it postulates that mass can manipulate space and time thus making large masses such as stars emit light. His Theory helped astronomists understand and discover black holes, event horizons, gravitational waves, space-time continuum, wormholes, the Big Bang, warp speed, and special relativity’s importance (1905) in the realm of high relative velocities, among many other aspects of astronomy and as well as quantum physics and theoretical physics.
What is not well-known are his views on America’s so-called “Negro problem”.
Mr. Einstein wrote the following to address the blighting and damaging effects of racism on Americans. His cool insight and logic in how this sickness pervades the daily lives of all Americans is very succint and clear in his essay.
I am writing as one who has lived among you in America only a little more than ten years. And I am writing seriously and warningly. Many readers may ask:
“What right has he to speak about things which concern us alone, and which no newcomer should touch?”
I do not think such a standpoint is justified. One who has grown up in an environment takes much for granted. On the other hand, one who has come to this country as a mature person may have a keen eye for everything peculiar and characteristic. I believe he should speak out freely on what he sees and feels, for by so doing he may perhaps prove himself useful.
What soon makes the new arrival devoted to this country is the democratic trait among the people. I am not thinking here so much of the democratic political constitution of this country, however highly it must be praised. I am thinking of the relationship between individual people and of the attitude they maintain toward one another.
In the United States everyone feels assured of his worth as an individual. No one humbles himself before another person or class. Even the great difference in wealth, the superior power of a few, cannot undermine this healthy self-confidence and natural respect for the dignity of one’s fellow-man.
There is, however, a somber point in the social outlook of Americans. Their sense of equality and human dignity is mainly limited to men of white skins. Even among these there are prejudices of which I as a Jew am clearly conscious; but they are unimportant in comparison with the attitude of the “Whites” toward their fellow-citizens of darker complexion, particularly toward Negroes. 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.
Many a sincere person will answer: “Our attitude towards Negroes is the result of unfavorable experiences which we have had by living side by side with Negroes in this country. They are not our equals in intelligence, sense of responsibility, reliability.”
I am firmly convinced that whoever believes this suffers from a fatal misconception. Your ancestors dragged these black people from their homes by force; and in the white man’s quest for wealth and an easy life they have been ruthlessly suppressed and exploited, degraded into slavery. The modern prejudice against Negroes is the result of the desire to maintain this unworthy condition.
The ancient Greeks also had slaves. They were not Negroes but white men who had been taken captive in war. There could be no talk of racial differences. And yet Aristotle, one of the great Greek philosophers, declared slaves inferior beings who were justly subdued and deprived of their liberty. It is clear that he was enmeshed in a traditional prejudice from which, despite his extraordinary intellect, he could not free himself.
A large part of our attitude toward things is conditioned by opinions and emotions which we unconsciously absorb as children from our environment. In other words, it is tradition—besides inherited aptitudes and qualities—which makes us what we are. We but rarely reflect how relatively small as compared with the powerful influence of tradition is the influence of our conscious thought upon our conduct and convictions.
It would be foolish to despise tradition. But with our growing self-consciousness and increasing intelligence we must begin to control tradition and assume a critical attitude toward it, if human relations are ever to change for the better. We must try to recognize what in our accepted tradition is damaging to our fate and dignity—and shape our lives accordingly.
I believe that whoever tries to think things through honestly will soon recognize how unworthy and even fatal is the traditional bias against Negroes.
What, however, can the man of good will do to combat this deeply rooted prejudice? He must have the courage to set an example by word and deed, and must watch lest his children become influenced by this racial bias.
I do not believe there is a way in which this deeply entrenched evil can be quickly healed. But until this goal is reached there is no greater satisfaction for a just and well-meaning person than the knowledge that he has devoted his best energies to the service of the good cause.
“ALBERT EINSTEIN, RADICAL: A POLITICAL PROFILE”: http://www.monthlyreview.org/0505jjs.htm
Following the end of the Civil War, many communities set aside a day to mark the end of the war or as a memorial to those who had died. Some of the places creating an early memorial day include Charleston, South Carolina; Boalsburg, Pennsylvania; Richmond, Virginia; Carbondale, Illinois; Columbus, Mississippi; many communities in Vermont; and some two dozen other cities and towns. These observances eventually coalesced around Decoration Day, honoring the Union dead, and the several Confederate Memorial Days.
According to Professor David Blight of the Yale University History Department, the first memorial day was observed in 1865 by liberated slaves at the historic race track in Charleston. The site was a former Confederate prison camp as well as a mass grave for Union soldiers who had died while captive. The freed slaves reinterred the dead Union soldiers from the mass grave to individual graves, fenced in the graveyard & built an entry arch declaring it a Union graveyard – a very daring thing to do in the South shortly after North’s victory. On May 30, 1886? the freed slaves returned to the graveyard with flowers they’d picked from the countryside & decorated the individual gravesites, thereby creating the 1st Decoration Day. A parade with thousands of freed blacks and Union soldiers was followed by patriotic singing and a picnic:
“During the final year of the [Civil] war, the Confederate command in … [Charleston, South Carolina] had converted the planter’s Race Course (horse-racing track) into a prison. Union soldiers were kept in terrible conditions in the interior of the track, without tents or other coverings. At least 257 died from exposure and disease and were hastily buried without coffins in unmarked graves behind the former judge’s stand. After the fall of the city, Charleston’s blacks, many of whom had witnessed the sufferings at the horse-track prision, insisted on a proper burial of the Union dead. The symbolic power of the planter aristocracy’s Race Course (where they had displayed their wealth, leisure, and influence) was not lost on the freedpeople. … [B]lacks planned a May Day ceremony that a New York Tribune correspondent called “a procession of friends and mourners as South Carolina and the United States never saw before.”
The “First Decoration Day,” as this event came to be recognized in some circles in the North, involved an estimated ten thousand people, most of them black former slaves…. At nine o’clock in the morning on May 1, the procession to this special cemetery began as three thousand black schoolchildren (newly enrolled in freedmen’s schools) marched around the Race Course, each with an armload of roses and singing “John Brown’s Body.” The children were followed by three hundred black women representing the Patriotic Association, a group organized to distribute clothing and other goods among the freedpeople. The women carried baskets of flowers, wreaths, and crosses to the burial ground. The Mutual Aid Society, a benevolent association of black men, next marched in cadence around the track and into the cemetery, followed by large crowds of white and black citizens. All dropped their spring blossoms on the graves in a scene recorded by a newspaper correspondent: “when all had left, the holy mounds–the tops, the sides, and the spaces between them–were a mass of flowers, not a speck of earth could be seen; and as the breeze wafted the sweet perfumes from them, outside and beyond… there were few eyes among those who knew the meaning of the ceremony that were not dim with tears of joy.” While the adults marched around the graves, the children were gathered in a nearby grove, where they sang “America,” “We’ll Rally around the Flag,” and “The Star Spangled Banner.”
The official dedication ceremony was conducted by the ministers of all the black churches in Charleston. With prayers, the reading of biblical passages, and the singing of spirituals, black Charlestonians gave birth to an American tradition. In so doing, they declared the meaning of the war in the most public way possible–by their labor, their words, their songs, and their solemn parade of roses, lilacs, and marching feet on the old planter’s Race Course….
After the dedication, the crowds gathered at the Race Course grandstand to hear some thirty speeches by Union officers, local black ministers, and abolitionist missionaries…. Picnics ensued around the grounds, and in the afternoon, a full brigade of Union infantry, including the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts and Thirty-fifth and 104th U.S. Colored Troops, marched in double column around the martyr’s graves and held a drill on the infield of the Race Course. The war was over, and Memorial Day had been founded by African Americans in a ritual of remembrance and consecration. But the struggle to own the meaning of Memorial Day in particular, and of Civil War memory in general, had only begun.”
SOURCE; “THE FLAG OUR FATHERS SAVED”: http://www.uufhc.net/s020526.html
“But such limitations do not release us from engaging filmmakers and helping them make good history. From my recent work on Civil War memory I came across a story that might provide an opening scene for some enterprising filmmaker eager to construct continuing answers to Birth of a Nation. It is a story worth telling not merely for its sentiment, but because it was all but lost in the historical record. After Charleston, South Carolina was evacuated in February 1865 near the end of the Civil War, most of the people remaining among the ruins of the city were thousands of blacks. During the final eight months of the war, Charleston had been bombarded by Union batteries and gunboats, and much of its magnificent architecture lay in ruin. Also during the final months of war the Confederates had converted the Planters’ Race Course (a horse track) into a prison in which some 257 Union soldiers had died and were thrown into a mass grave behind the grandstand.
In April, more than twenty black carpenters and laborers went to the gravesite, reinterred the bodies in proper graves, built a tall fence around the cemetery enclosure one hundred yards long, and built an archway over an entrance. On the archway they inscribed the words, “Martyrs of the Race Course.” And with great organization, on May 1, 1865, the black folk of Charleston, in cooperation with white missionaries, teachers, and Union troops, conducted an extraordinary parade of approximately ten thousand people. It began with three thousand black school children (now enrolled in freedmen’s schools) marching around the Planters’ Race Course with armloads of roses and singing “John Brown’s Body.” Then followed the black women of Charleston, and then the men. They were in turn followed by members of Union regiments and various white abolitionists such as James Redpath. The crowd gathered in the graveyard; five black preachers read from Scripture, and a black children’s choir sang “America,” “We Rally Around the Flag,” the “Star-spangled Banner,” and several spirituals. Then the solemn occasion broke up into an afternoon of speeches, picnics, and drilling troops on the infield of the old planters’ horseracing track.
This was the first Memorial Day. Black Charlestonians had given birth to an American tradition. By their labor, their words, their songs, and their solemn parade of roses and lilacs and marching feet on their former masters’ race course, they had created the Independence Day of the Second American Revolution.
To this day hardly anyone in Charleston, or elsewhere, even remembers this story. Quite remarkably, it all but vanished from memory. But in spite of all the other towns in America that claim to be the site of the first Memorial Day (all claiming spring, 1866), African Americans and Charleston deserve pride of place. Why not imagine a new rebirth of the American nation with this scene?
SOURCE: “THE BIRTH OF A GENRE: SLAVERY ON FILM: http://www.common-place.org/vol-01/no-04/slavery/blight.shtml
IN REMEMBRANCE: THE SOLDIERS SITE: http://www.legacy.com/houstonchronicle/soldier/Home.aspx
SGT. MERLIN GERMAN: THE ‘MIRACLE MARINE’: http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2008-05-24-miracle-marine_N.htm
Anthony S. Bush/ Topeka Capital Journal, via Associated Press
White House Photo, via Associated Press
Doug Benz for The New York Times
Associated Press, 1948
(May 19, 1994)
(May 14, 1998)
(May 21, 1935)
(May 22, 1967)
(May 23, 1937)
(May 25, 1919)
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CLINTON REMARK ON KENNEDY KILLING STIRS UPROAR: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/24/us/politics/24clinton.html?ref=politics
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The United Nations Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, Doudou Diène, will undertake a country visit to the United States from 19 May to 6 June 2008 at the invitation of the Government of the United States.
The Special Rapporteur will visit the cities of Washington, New York, Chicago, Omaha, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Miami and San Juan, Puerto Rico to gather first-hand information on issues related to racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. He is scheduled to hold meetings with representatives of the Government, both at national and local levels, and with members of the legislative and judiciary branches. Discussions will also be held with non-governmental organizations, community members, representatives of political parties, academics and other organizations and individuals working in the field of racism and discrimination.
The Special Rapporteur will submit a final report on the visit for consideration at a forthcoming session of the Human Rights Council in 2009.
The mandate of the Special Rapporteur on racism was established in 1993 by the Commission on Human Rights to examine incidents of contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, as well as governmental measures to overcome them. It was further extended by the Human Rights Council in its resolutions 5/1 and 7/34. A former director of UNESCO Department of Intercultural Dialogue, Mr. Diène is the second Special Rapporteur to hold the mandate. Since his appointment in 2002, he has conducted official visits to Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Canada, Colombia, Nicaragua, Honduras, Côte d’Ivoire, Guatemala, Japan, Brazil, Switzerland, Italy, the Russian Federation, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, the Dominican Republic and Mauritania.
For more information please go to http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/racism/rapporteur/index.htm
For use of the information media; not an official record
Doudou Diene, a Senegalese attorney and United Nations Special Rapporteur on racism, will visit the United States for three weeks in order to “. . . gather first-hand information on issues related to racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.” Mr. Diene’s role as mandated by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, is to gather information on reports of racial abuse against U.S. citizens. His visit to the America is just one of many that he will make among many other countries throughout this year. The information that Mr. Diene gathers will result in a report to be released to the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2009.
Okay, Mr. Diene will visit America on a fact-finding mission to gather evidence of racial xenophobic intolerance, information against a country which still runs like hell from its racist past.
So, America’s atrocities of the stark disparities of the prison industrial complex, racial disparities in the death penalty, the monstrous sentencing of youth to life without parole for crimes committed when they were under 18, the savage inequalities of residential segregation, the still separate-but-equal abysmal educational system, the police brutality of slaughtering black women and men in cities across America, the exceedingly high infant mortality rate, the subprime mortgage crisis (a heinous crime in itself, and the government’s rush to bail-out the perpetrators of this orgy of predatory lending, in this case, Bear-Stearns), the removal of industries (automotive, textile industries) from the inner cities out to the suburbs and rural areas, the inequalities in health care, the detention of non-citizens at Guantanamo, the systemic inadequacies in indigent criminal defense, which creates a devastating impact on racial minorities; the disenfranchisement of millions of U.S, citizens because they have been convicted of a felony, even though they have paid their debt to society or have been released on parole—just to name a few things—will Mr. Diene be able to investigate and complie hard-hitting, truth-telling documentation, against the most hypocritical country in the world?
And all in a mere three weeks?
I tell ya’, three weeks is not enough to gather one billionth of the abominations that America has committed against her citizens.
Is this country ready for the truth to be told about itself, much less by a black man from Africa? Is this country ready to own up to its perversions of democracy, much less before the world? I do not think so. America has lied to herself for centuries, and she has created a web of deceit built on myths for so long, that she has come to believe her lies. She has fabricated the insanity that she is a true demcracy when she has been anything but a democracy.
If any country has practiced terrorism against its citizens, that country would be the United States of America.
She stills pays her black citizens less than her white citizens for the same job. Her racist policies of when Affirmative Action was overwhelmingly white, has created a legacy of white wealth which will take generations, centuries, for black citizens to catch up to.
Add to the fact that a black President may be elected this year, does not help at all. If anything this will be the chance that millions of racists have been looking for as an out. I can just hear many of them now:
“Electing a black president means America is no longer a racist country”.
A bigger lie could not be told.
Electing Obama will not in any way make racism go away, especially when that same racism is not acknowledged. And therein lies the rub. Yes. Elect Obama, then maybe those pesky black people will just shut up, or at least be quiet now that they have a black president. As if a black man being elected president means America has finally become a country that gives a damn about her black citizens. Electing Obama will not mean shit if whites still show nothing but contempt for their fellow black citizens. Electing Obama as president will mean nothing if blacks continue to remain America’s pariahs. As long as black Americans continue to face violence in education, economics, entertainment, labor, law, politics, religion, sex and war, America’s electing Obama will not eradicate the legacy of centuries of vicious racial oppression, the effects of which still live very visibly with us all.
Mr. Diene can come to America and do his information gathering. Fine. But, it remains to be seen if he will speak power to truth in his report. It remains to be seen if he will cower from the wrath of the American white majority and its rulers, or, if he will have the guts to tell the unvarnished truth of America’s racist two-faced at-home policies against her citizens.
It remains to be seen if America will be shown to the world for the Great Whore that she has been towards her non-white citizens. It remains to be seen if Mr. Diene/the United Nations will ream America out the way so many other countries with human rights abuses are castigated by the oh-so illustrious United Nations.
Will Mr. Diene shy away from the cold hard facts, or will he be no-holds-barred in his approach to America’s long reign of white supremacy?
Will Mr. Diene only talk to so-called leaders and ignore the local citizens of non-white communities across America? Will Mr. Diene ignore their plight? Will Mr. Diene treat them as if what they have to say has no bearing on his report? Afterall, it is the non-white people of America who truly know America for what she truly is: a country founded on and maintained on the belief in white supremacy, the greatest motivating force in the known universe in the promotion of combined falsehoods, non-justice, and inhumane aberrations against the diginity and respect of all human beings.
Will Mr.Diene tell the truth? The whole truth. . . .and nothing but the truth?
No watered-down, half-truths?
No need to ask black Americans the truth of America.
We live within the maw of this roaring lion of a country.
No need to tell us what we already know.
Is white-run America ready for the truth?
I’m not holding my breath on that one.