Ralph Bunche: First African American Noble Peace Prize Winner

Ralph Bunche was born August 7, 1904 (or 1903 depending on the source) in Detroit, Michigan. Bunche relocated several times before he settled down in Los Angeles, California. Bunche graduated from Jefferson High School as valedictorian and continued to the University of  California where he became a member of the Phi Beta Kappa and graduated in 1927 as class valedictorian once again!  At Harvard University he received both his M.A. in 1928 and  his Ph D. in  1934 in governmental/international relations, earning the honor of being the first African American to earn a political science doctorate.

Through his work in the National Defense Program during World War II and his involvement in the U.S. State Department played a vital role in the establishment of the United Nations.  After joining the Global Organization’s Secretariat during 1947 and 1949 his preeminent accomplishment was through his involvement in his work to achieve peace in Palestine.

The following year, in 1950, Ralph Bunche was awarded the Noble Peace Prize  for his meditation endeavors during the 1940’s the Middle East, making him the first African American to be bestowed for the Nobel Peace Prize.

To view a Ralph Bunche work, click here for Rebecca Crown Library’s selection of his work.



IMAGE CREDIT: Van Vechten, Carl, photographer. Portrait of Ralph Bunche, 1951. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. Reproduction NumberLC-USZ62-109113.

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