December 10

December 10, 1950 – Ralph J. Bunche Wins Nobel Peace Prize

Ralph Bunche - 1963 March on Washington

Dr.Ralph Bunche at the 1963 March on Washington.

A man who can be described as “A Peace Maker”, Dr. Ralph Johnson Bunche became the first African American to receive the Nobel Peace Prize on December 10, 1950 for the 1949 Armistice Agreements. Bunche was born on August 7, 1904 in Detroit, Michigan. He was a diplomat and political scientist who is remembered internationally for his work as the chief mediator for the United Nations during the Arab-Israeli conflict in which he received the Nobel Peace Prize. Bunche was also involved as a mediator in other major conflicts around the world. In 1968 he became the United Nations Undersecretary-General.

Dr. Ralph J. Bunche

Dr. Ralph J. Bunche – August 1949

President John F. Kennedy awarded Bunche with the nations highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963.Earlier in life, Bunche received his undergraduate degree from UCLA by graduating summe-cum laude and class valedictorian in 1927.  He earned his masters in 1928 and doctorate in 1934  from Harvard in Political Science.  He was the first African American to receive his Doctorate in Political Science.  He later did postgraduate anthropological work at the London School of Economics and the University of Cape Town.  Before completing his graduate degrees from Harvard, Bunche started teaching Political Science at Howard University, where he served as chair of the Department of Political Science from 1928 – 1950. Bunche was active in Civil Rights and served for over 20 years on the NAACP Board.  He and his wife, the former Ruth Harris had three children (Joan Harris Bunche, Jane Johnson Bunche, and Ralph J. Bunche, Jr.).  Bunche died on December 9, 1971 in New York City, New York at age 68.