41 Facts About Ralph Bunche


Ralph Johnson Bunche was an American political scientist, diplomat, and leading actor in the mid-20th-century decolonization process and US civil rights movement, who received the 1950 Nobel Peace Prize for his late 1940s mediation in Israel.


Ralph Bunche was involved in the formation and early administration of the United Nations, and played a major role in both the decolonization process and numerous UN peacekeeping operations.


Ralph Bunche then served on the American delegation to the first session of the United Nations General Assembly in 1946 and joined the UN as head of the Trusteeship Department, beginning a long series of troubleshooting roles and responsibilities related to decolonization.


In 1948, Ralph Bunche became an acting mediator for the Middle East, negotiating an armistice between Egypt and Israel.


Ralph Bunche continued to serve at the UN, working on crises in the Sinai, the Congo, Yemen, Cyprus and Bahrain in 1970, reporting directly to the UN Secretary-General.


Ralph Bunche chaired study groups dealing with water resources in the Middle East.


In 1965, Ralph Bunche supervised the cease-fire following the war between India and Pakistan.


Ralph Bunche retired from the UN in June 1971, dying 6 months later.


Ralph Bunche was born in Detroit, in 1904 and baptized at the city's Second Baptist Church.


When Ralph Bunche was a child, his family moved to Toledo, Ohio, where his father looked for work.


Ralph Bunche was a brilliant student, a debater, athlete and the valedictorian of his graduating class at Jefferson High School.


Ralph Bunche earned a master's degree in political science in 1928 and a doctorate in 1934, while he was already teaching in the Department of Political Science at Howard University, a historically black college.


Ralph Bunche was the first African American to gain a PhD in political science from an American university.


From 1936 to 1938, Ralph Bunche studied anthropology and conducted postdoctoral research at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and at the London School of Economics, and later at the University of Cape Town in South Africa.


For more than two decades, Ralph Bunche served as chair of the Department of Political Science at Howard University, where he taught.


Ralph Bunche was elected to the American Philosophical Society in 1950.


Ralph Bunche was the first Black member to be inducted into the Society since its founding in 1743.


Ralph Bunche served as a member of the Board of Overseers of his alma mater, Harvard University, as a member of the board of the Institute of International Education, and as a trustee of Oberlin College, Lincoln University, and New Lincoln School.


Ralph Bunche was appointed Associate Chief of the Division of Dependent Area Affairs under Alger Hiss.


Ralph Bunche participated in the preliminary planning for the United Nations at the San Francisco Conference of 1945.


Together with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, Ralph Bunche was instrumental in the creation and adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.


Ralph Bunche believed in 'the essential goodness of all people, and that no problem in human relations is insoluble.


Ralph Bunche characterized economic policies in colonies and mandates as exploitative, and argued that the colonial powers misrepresented the nature of their rule.


Ralph Bunche argued that Permanent Mandates Commission needed expanded powers to investigate how the mandates were governed.


However, Ralph Bunche disagreed with Buell on the relative merits of British and French colonial rule.


Ralph Bunche was a principal author of the chapters in the UN charter on non-self-determining territories and trusteeship.


Ralph Bunche was later head of the Trusteeship Division of the UN.


Ralph Bunche served as assistant to the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine, and thereafter as the principal secretary of the UN Palestine Commission.


The representative for Israel was Moshe Dayan; he reported in memoirs that much of his delicate negotiation with Ralph Bunche was conducted over a billiard table while the two were shooting pool.


Optimistically, Ralph Bunche commissioned a local potter to create unique memorial plates bearing the name of each negotiator.


Ralph Bunche continued to work for the United Nations, mediating in other strife-torn regions, including the Congo, Yemen, Kashmir, and Cyprus.


Ralph Bunche was appointed Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations in 1968.


Ralph Bunche was actively involved in movements for black liberation in his pre-United Nations days, including through leadership positions with various civil rights organizations and as one of the leading scholars on the issue of race in the US and colonialism abroad.


Ralph Bunche participated in the 1963 March on Washington, where Martin Luther King Jr.


Ralph Bunche lived in the Kew Gardens neighborhood of Queens, New York, in a home purchased with his Nobel Prize money, from 1953 until his death.


Ralph Bunche refused the offer, saying it was not based on racial equality and was an exception based only on his personal prestige.


On October 9,1966, their daughter Jane Ralph Bunche Pierce fell or jumped from the roof of her apartment building in Riverdale, Bronx; her death was believed to be suicide.


Ralph Bunche resigned from his position at the UN due to ill health, but this was not announced, as Secretary-General U Thant hoped he would be able to return soon.


Ralph Bunche's health did not improve, and Bunche died December 9,1971, from complications of heart disease, kidney disease, and diabetes.


Ralph Bunche is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, New York City.


Several of Ralph Bunche's residences are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.