Today, we delivered an open letter to the White House calling on President Obama to adopt a comprehensive plan—a National Plan of Action for Racial Justice —that outlines how the Administration intends to meet its human rights obligations to end racial inequality, inequity, and discrimination in the United States, once and for all.
We delivered the letter today, March 21st, in recognition of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. March 21st is observed annually in remembrance of the same day in 1960 when police opened fire and killed 69 people who were peacefully demonstrating against apartheid “pass laws” in Sharpeville, South Africa.
Pass laws were laws that segregated and restricted the movement of black and other non-white South Africans. They required primarily black South Africans to carry pass books with them when they were outside their homeland or designated areas or risk arrest. On that day in 1960, thousands of black South Africans gathered in peaceful protest at a police station without their passbooks offering themselves for arrest. While accounts of what happened next differ, in the end, police opened fire on the unarmed protesters without any prior warning to disperse. 69 people were killed and hundreds more were injured in the incident.
The Sharpeville incident happened over 50 years ago in South Africa, yet the story has disturbing resonance for the United States today. The impact of pass laws in South Africa is similar to the effect of current day policies that may not overtly target, but that have a negative impact on, people of color such as the New York Police Department’s Operation Clean Halls. Operation Clean Halls allows the police to come into certain buildings including public housing, to stop, search and question anyone who is deemed suspicious in the building. Police can arrest residents for entering the building through prohibited areas like the rooftop or basement, or for being unable to provide proof of residence or identification. And guests can be arrested if they drop by without an invitation or the person they are visiting is not around to confirm that they are a guest. Not surprisingly, the outcome is that hundreds of thousands of black and Latino New Yorkers are harassed, humiliated and sometimes arrested in their own homes. Racial profiling laws across the country also have a similar disproportionate negative impact on Blacks, Latinos, immigrants, indigenous peoples, and LGBT youth. Like the examples mentioned above, discriminatory laws and practices these days are often indirect and concealed with facially neutral language. They are therefore harder to prove.
Our current civil rights laws are not sufficient for dealing with these contemporary forms of discrimination that have a disproportionate negative impact on African Americans, Latinos, Indigenous Peoples, Asian Americans, and Arab Americans whether intended to or not. However, the United States government has ratified the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) which provides guidance and remedies for addressing direct and indirect forms of discrimination from a human rights perspective. We are calling on the Obama Administration to adopt a National Plan of Action for Racial Justice laying out concrete steps it intends to take to fully comply with ICERD and address racial discrimination once and for all.
We have released an educational resource to provide more information on the National Plan of Action for Racial Justice, as well as a suggested template for the National Plan of Action for Racial Justice.
We thank the 125 groups that signed the open letter submitted to President Obama today. We will be submitting a petition to the Administration in the coming weeks as well. We urge you to join us in calling on the Administration to pursue all appropriate and available avenues to achieve racial justice in the next four years.
What You Can Do Today!
To support our call for a National Plan of Action for Racial Justice, we have launched a new campaign, Once & 4 All. Here is what you can do to support the campaign and spread the work!
• Sign and Circulate the Petition: we need everyone across the country to call for the National Plan of Action!
• Check out and “like” the Once & 4 All Facebook page. And share the post with your Facebook friends.
• Post information about Once & 4 All and the National Plan of Action on your facebook and twitter accounts.
• Upload a pic of the palm of your hand on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram with the hashtag #ONCE4ALL to show your solidarity with victims who have suffered any form of racial discrimination.
• Send your Once & 4 All statement to the White House to let the Obama Administration know that change needs to happen now. http://salsa3.salsalabs.com/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=E3A%2FkZ0kOYiUJXqSF%2FF%2B%2Fz8MWT0mD31F• And check out our website http://salsa3.salsalabs.com/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=BJoCmR0kau20lUWyMvnRWT8MWT0mD31F
Ejim Dike, Executive Director
This is a joint effort by the US Human Rights Network and the Human Rights at Home Campaign
African Americans, Albert Einstein & Little Known History
This Article was forwarded to me by brother Yummy of the Frator Heru Institute, which continues to offer critical community-based educational courses and effective community outreach in North Philadelphia..get details here http://www.thefratorheruinstitute.org. I thought the article is worth sharing to commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination; and to educate our youth and the community at large about a National Plan of action for Racial Justice that outlines how the Obama Administration intends to meet its human rights obligations to end racial inequality,and discrimination! (Following is quoted from the person who sent this article to bro Yummy “Check out the following information I sourced from Kim of “KIMISTRY 101″ on ‘BLOGGER’ and also “The Progressive Influence – A place to follow progressive issues and follow current events…” as well as the source links below. Peace & Love, Fu ” )
“Race prejudice has unfortunately become an American tradition which is uncritically handed down from one generation to the next.” – Albert Einstein,
“…there is 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. And, I do not intend to be quiet about it.” – Albert Einstein, Lincoln University, PA in 1946.
Einstein’s official 1921 portrait after receiving the Nobel Prize in Physics.
He was visiting the United States when Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933, and did not go back to Germany, where he had been a professor at theBerlin Academy of Sciences. He settled in the U.S., becoming a citizen in 1940. On the eve of World War II, he helped alert President Franklin D. Roosevelt that Germany might be developing an atomic weapon, and recommended that the U.S. begin similar research; this eventually led to what would become the Manhattan Project. Einstein was in support of defending the Allied forces, but largely denounced using the new discovery of nuclear fission as a weapon. Later, with the British philosopher Bertrand Russell, Einstein signed the Russell–Einstein Manifesto, which highlighted the danger of nuclear weapons. Einstein was affiliated with the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, until his death in 1955.
Einstein interest in racism came long before he even resided in the states. Einstein left Germany in the early 30’s as his homeland was falling under the grip of the Nazis, making life unbearable for Jews.
On the eve of Einstein’s move to America he joined the international campaign to save The Scottsboro Boys , nine African American teenagers from Alabama, falsely accused of raping two white women – 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. When the Nazis came into power Einstein was fearful that a return to Germany would place him in mortal danger, he decided to stay, accepting a position at the recently founded Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J.
Einstein worked at the Institute for Advanced Study, and his home adjoined the neighborhood where the African American community was centered. Einstein, felt a kinship to African-Americans subjected to racism due to Nazi-inspired threats and harassment he suffered during his tenure at the University of Berlin. “Einstein realized that African Americans in Princeton were treated like Jews in Germany,”. “The town was strictly segregated. There was no high school that blacks could go to until the 1940s.”
You may not have known it, but he was a rebel, an outspoken radical, and a social activist. His name was Albert Einstein, one of the most beloved scientists and one of the smartest men in history. He had witnessed the rise of Nazism in Germany and so he knew firsthand how hate, fear, and ignorance can destroy a country. So, when he arrived in America, he was shocked at how Black Americans were treated. “There is separation of colored people from white people in the United States,” he said. “That separation is not a disease of colored people. It is a disease of white people. And, I do not intend to be quiet about it.” And, he wasn’t.
Although he had a fear of speaking in public, he made all the effort he could to spread the word of equality, denouncing racism and segregation and becoming a huge proponent of civil rights even before the term became fashionable. Einstein was a member of several civil rights groups (including the Princeton chapter of the NAACP).
“The social outlook of Americans…their sense of equality and human dignity is limited to men of white skins. The more I feel an American, the more this situation pains me. I can escape complicity in it only by speaking out,” he said.
So, when he saw injustice, Einstein spoke out. After a bloody racial riot in 1946 in which 500 state troopers with submachine guns attacked and destroyed virtually every black-owned business in a four-square-block area in Tennessee and arrested 25 black men for attempted murder, Einstein joined Eleanor Roosevelt, Langston Hughes, and Thurgood Marshall to fight for justice for the men, acquitting 24 of the 25 defendants.
Also, from the numerous attempts to stop the execution of Willie McGee, a black Mississippi sharecropper accused of raping a white woman, and efforts to prevent New Jersey from extraditing Sam Buckhannon, a black Georgian who had escaped a chain gang after serving 18 years for stealing a pack of cigarettes, Einstein used his fame to condemn American racism.
Einstein would say, “I believe Gandhi’s views were the most enlightened of all the political men of our time. We should strive to do things in his spirit: not to use violence for fighting for our cause, but by non-participation of anything you believe is evil.”
Albert Einstein was born March 14, 1879.
The book Einstein on Race and Racism by Fred Jerome and Rodger Taylor examines the Nobel Prize-winning physicist activism in the civil rights movement of the 1940s.
In 1937 Einstein stepped in when African-American Opera singer and civil rights supporter Marian Anderson was refused a room at Princeton’s Nassau Inn and forbidden to eat at public restaurants. He invited her to stay at his home, which she did. From then on, she stayed with him whenever she visited Princeton. Einstein was a commonly seen figure in the Witherspoon area of Princeton where he lived. Many of the residents there — almost all Black, given the segregation typical of that time — had fond remembrances of how this Caucasian man, by then an American citizen, would invite them to his home, sit on their porches to talk, or walk along in silence or conversing with adults and children in the area. His simple friendliness was unaffected and natural, the expression of his honest temperament. It is hard to say how much his experience of living in Witherspoon at the same time he worked in the all-white atmosphere of Princeton spurred his involvement in civil rights efforts; what we do know is that he quickly became acquainted with and then more seriously involved in activities spearheaded by well-known Black progressives of the time.
Paul Robeson and Einstein in his Princeton home in 1952
Also not widely known was Einstein’s friendships with W. E. B. Dubois and Paul Robeson. “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 and asked if he could write a piece about the evil of racial prejudice in the world for the newspaper. Einstein gladly wrote the piece which brought The Crisis a rare, small headline in the New York Times: EINSTEIN HAILS NEGRO RACE. Einstein and Paul Robeson first became acquainted when Robeson performed at the Princeton’s McCarter Theater in 1935. Having a mutual interest in social justice issues the two developed a friendship that would last twenty years. Einstein lent his prominence to Robeson and became the co-chair of the American Crusade to End Lynching in response to the outrage of two black men and their wives being murdered in Monroe, Georgia, and justice was not served and also at the upsurge in racial murders as black soldiers returned home in the aftermath of World War II. When Robeson was blacklisted because of his activism against racism, again it was Einstein who opened his home to his long-time friend. In 1946 Einstein wrote a letter to President Harry Truman calling for prosecution of lynchers to gain support and passage for the anti-lynching law crusade stating that “guaranteeing every citizen protection against the violence of lynching was one of the most urgent tasks for our generation”.
Einstein’s outspokenness on civil rights included a virtually unknown 1948 interview with the Cheney Record, student newspaper at a then-small Black college (Cheney State) in Pennsylvania: “Race prejudice has unfortunately become an American tradition which is uncritically handed down from one generation to the next.
Einstein addressing black students at Lincoln University, May 1946
In 1946, he traveled to Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, the alma mater of Langston Hughes and Thurgood Marshall and the first school in America to grant college degrees to blacks. At Lincoln, Einstein gave a speech in which he told a campus-wide audience, “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 is not a disease of colored people. It is a disease of white people. I do not intend to be quiet about it.” He also received an honorary degree and gave a lecture on relativity to Lincoln students. The reason Einstein’s visit to Lincoln is not better known is that it was virtually ignored by the mainstream press, which regularly covered Einstein’s speeches and activities. (Only the black press gave extensive coverage to the event.) Nor is there mention of the Lincoln visit in any of the major Einstein biographies or archives.
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 which demanded the outlawing of atomic weapons. Because the petition was begun by the international Communist movement, it was seen by many as a Soviet ploy—even though millions of people in the states and abroad agreed with its sentiments and signed it. 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. Einstein quickly volunteered to testify as a defense witness in Du Bois Federal trial. 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.
Albert Einstein remains one of America’s foremost cultural icons, a Nobel Prize winner in physics, Time magazine’s “Person of 20th Century,” the scientist whose formula E=Mc2 and General Theory of Relativity led to monumental scientific advances. It’s long overdue that his views on such a vital subject matter as race were made as equally well known.
It’s been rumored that a movie is in the works about the friendship between Paul Robeson and Einstein with Danny Glover to play Robeson and Ben Kingsley as Einstein.
The Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
Special collections library at Princeton
The Einstein File: J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret War Against the World’s Most Famous Scientist
National Society of Black Physicists
W. E. B. Du Bois papers
Paul Robeson Cultural Center at Rutgers University
Robeson Family Archives, Moorland Spingarn Research Center, Howard University, Washington D.C.
[San Francisco] Bay Area Paul Robeson Centennial Committee
Einstein Papers Project at Cal Tech in Pasadena, CA
Einstein Archives Online (The Einstein Papers Project)
Center for Einstein Studies at Boston University
Lincoln University in Pennsylvania