- Bunche, Ralph Johnson
- (1903-1971)Born in Detroit, Ralph Bunche moved first to Albuquerque with his family in 1914, and then to Los Angeles. He graduated from the University of California in Los Angeles in 1927 with a major in international relations. Bunche undertook postgraduate research at Harvard University and while there in 1934 produced the first political science dissertation by an African American—a prize-winning study—and went on to research in anthropology at Northwestern University, the London School of Economics, and Capetown University in South Africa. He was chair of the Department of Political Science at Howard University in Washington, D.C., from 1928 to 1950. In 1938, Bunche joined the research team directed by Gunnar Myrdal that produced An American Dilemma (1944), the classic study of black life and conditions. He was also a member of the Black Cabinet consulted by the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt on racial matters. During World War II, Bunche worked first in the Office of Strategic Services and then in the African section of the State Department. He became one of the organizers of conferences leading to the organization of the United Nations (UN). He was a member of the U.S. delegation to the General Assembly and in 1946 was placed in charge of the Department of Trusteeship by UN Secretary General Trygve Lie. He then became undersecretary general of the UN and was involved in the mediation between Palestine and Israel from 1947 to 1949. Bunche took over the role of chief mediator following the assassination of Count Folke Bernadotte in 1948 and was successful in negotiating an armistice and peace settlement.Bunche was subsequently involved in the peacekeeping efforts following the Suez Crisis in 1956 and the conflict in the Belgian Congo (Zaire) in 1960. In addition to the Nobel Peace Prize awarded in 1950 for his work in the Middle East, Bunche was awarded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored Peoples’ Spingarn Medal, the Presidential Medal of Honor in 1963, and the U.S. Medal of Freedom in 1963. He continued to work at the UN until shortly before his death.
Historical Dictionary of the Roosevelt–Truman Era . Neil A. Wynn . 2015.