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Michigan State Flag

Ralph Johnson Bunche

Born: August 7, 1904
Place: Detroit, Michigan
Died: December 9, 1971
Place: New York City

Ralph Johnson Bunche Ralph Johnson Bunche was born in Detroit, Michigan on August 7, 1904. His family moved out West when he was a young boy, and eventually settled in Los Angeles. He graduated at the top of his class from Los Angeles' Jefferson High School, excelling in academics and sports. He entered UCLA, played varsity sports, and graduated summa cum laude in 1927 with a B.A. degree. He went on earn his Ph.D. in politcal science from Harvard in 1934. As he researched for his doctorate, he also taught political science at Howard University and established Howard's political science department. With boundless energy and focus, Bunche dedicated himself to issues ranging from the domestic to the international. His interests included education and civil rights issues at home, and grew to encompass worldwide arbitration and mediation.

In 1941 Ralph Bunche began a life-long career of service, joining the Office of Strategic Services, where he served until he moved to join the State Department in 1944, and then as Head of the Division of Dependent Area Affairs in 1945. His expertise on colonial territories and trusteeships gained him a prime position with the UN by 1948, and he authored several chapters of the UN Charter in those areas. Bunche mediated many thorny issues for the UN, including arbitrations with Palestine, Egypt, the Congo, Cyprus, Kashmir, and Yemen over several decades. In 1950 he was the principal broker for the armistice between Israel and surrounding Arab countries, and those efforts earned him the prestigous Nobel Peace Prize. Bunche continued his career as statesman and peace broker as he served the UN as Undersecretary, and then Undersecretary General for the organization, finally retiring from the UN in 1971. In 1963 President John F. Kennedy awarded Ralph Bunche with the nation's highest civilian honor, the Medal of Freedom. Ralph Johnson Bunche, one of America's most prominent statesmen, died in New York City on December 9, 1971.

Read a superb biography of this international diplomat. Click here to purchase Ralph Bunche : An American Life, a biography by Brian Urquhart. Inspiring and factual, a good addition to your personal collection.


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