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PBS show host appraises a 1946 Einstein-signed photo and prints
LINCOLN UNIVERSITY, Pa. - Lincoln University was featured on a national television broadcast on May 29. On the long-running PBS show Antiques Roadshow, a guest, identified only by her first name Cecily, brought rare photos of Albert Einstein to a filming in Orlando, Florida. The photos were taken by Cecily’s husband in May 1946 who was a freelance photographer at the time of Einstein’s visit to Lincoln University’s campus when Einstein received an honorary doctorate and took questions from students during a classroom visit.
Seventy years after Einstein’s visit, during the June 2016 television taping, PBS host Martin Gammon appraised Cecily’s collection of Albert Einstein-related memorabilia for between $7,000 and $9,000 at auction.
In the segment, Cecily refers to the three images “our prized possession.” Gammon says one of the three photos of Einstein standing alone in his academic regalia before the Commencement ceremony is rare because it was signed by Einstein. Martin Gammon called the photos “fascinating” because it speaks to Einstein’s unrecognized — until most recently — interest in civil rights.
Gammon points out Lincoln University’s history as the first degree-granting historically black college with distinguished students such as Langston Hughes, Thurgood Marshall, and Cabell Calloway Jr., father to jazz singer Cab Calloway.
Cecily says later in the segment that her husband told her that Einstein started off his remarks by saying “I do not need another honorary degree. I have other concerns,” referring to the fact that at this time in his life, Einstein was hesitant about doing any honorary doctorates or any presentations at universities because of his ill health.
Einstein accepted the offer from Horace Mann Bond, who is shown in the second of the three photos, along with other university leaders in academic regalia.
Gammon says, “Horace Mann Bond was a leader in the developing civil rights movement, and on this particular occasion his six-year-old son Julian Bond was at the session and apparently Einstein had given him advice that he should ‘never remember anything that was already written down.’ And of course Julian Bond ended up becoming the head of the NAACP many, many years later.”
Gammon laments that this particular speech did not get wide coverage in the press, but was hopeful that because of this television revisiting of the historical event, that it will be brought once again to the attention of others.
In the final part of the television segment, Cecily says that her husband wrote down some of the conversation that occurred when her husband accompanied Einstein into a classroom where top students had gathered.
Gammon points to a caption on the third photo, which is of Einstein at a blackboard, and reads the description, “in this photo, is Einstein’s amused reaction to one of the first questions asked by one of the students, which was ‘professor, can you explain in simple language your theory of relativity?’ And then he went on to proceed to provide an explanation; this is also another extraordinarily rare event for him to do an informal lecture on relativity.”
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