Einstein was a physics genius. But his passion might have been civil rights.

These days, the name Albert Einstein is basically a synonym for “genius.”

Einstein’s theory of relativity is one of the cornerstones of modern physics and his predictions continue to be confirmed today, even over a hundred years later. That’s not to mention his famous E=mc2 equation and the nuclear weapons it eventually helped spawn (which Einstein came to deeply regret).

He could even be pretty wise at times. A note scrawled with a piece of advice — "A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness." — recently sold for $1.56 million.


Two notes from Albert Einstein that were given to a bellboy in lieu of a tip. Photo by Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images.

But there’s a different reason Einstein was amazing that many people might not realize: He was also a fervent civil rights activist.

Though his life ultimately came to be full of fame and fortune, Einstein wasn’t a stranger to prejudice.

A portrait of Einstein at a show in London. The artist who made this, Max Liebermann, would be attacked as “degenerate” by the Nazis. Photo by Davis/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images.

Einstein was Jewish, living in Germany as Hitler rose to power. Einstein despaired over the Nazi’s anti-Semitism and became an outspoken critic of the Nazi party, which only drew more attacks against him. Major newspapers published attack pieces against him. His house was raided while he was away. He even appeared on a pamphlet list of the enemies of Nazi Germany. The caption below his picture read, “Not Yet Hanged.”

The harassment would ultimately prove to be too much. In 1933, Einstein abandoned his home and job at the Prussian Academy and sailed to the United States, stating: “I shall live in a land where political freedom, tolerance, and equality of all citizens reign.”

Einstein in 1938 at home at Princeton University. Photo by AFP/Getty Images.

Though the United States proved to be a haven for Einstein for the rest of his life, he must have been disappointed to see his newly adopted country fail to live up to the promise of equality.

At the time, the United States was still deeply segregated and Jim Crow laws severely restricted the rights of black Americans. Even Princeton, the college that’d become Einstein’s workplace, wouldn’t admit black students. Einstein could see the parallels, and, just as he refused to be quiet in Germany, so too in the United States.

Over the next decades, Einstein would become a staunch defender and ally of both the civil rights movement and the men and women who fueled it.

When opera star Marian Anderson was denied a hotel room because of her skin color, Einstein opened his house to her. He worked with actor and singer Paul Robeson on the American Crusade Against Lynching and invited him to perform at Princeton when the singer was blacklisted. He publicly encouraged the NAACP and W.E B. Du Bois for years and appeared as a character witness when the federal government tried to indict the man.

In 1946, he published an essay for white readers about racial bias in Pageant magazine, writing:

"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. …
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."

That same year, he gave a speech at Lincoln University calling racism was "a disease of white people." He also added, "I do not intend to be quiet about it."

Einstein was clearly one of the greatest minds of the 20th century. But perhaps what made him a truly special human being wasn’t just that he was smart, or that he was funny, or that he left behind a lot of great anecdotes (and notes for bellboys).

Perhaps it was that he used that magnificent brain of his to not just undersand the world, but to try to make it more just, fair, and peaceful place.

More

On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

Culture
via Cadbury

Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

Keep Reading Show less
Well Being

Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

WE Teachers
True
Walgreens
via KGW-TV / YouTube

One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture