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On Sept. 22, 1950, Ralph Bunche achieved something no other African-American had accomplished when he received the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in the late 1940s in assisting in the mediation in Palestine. Bunche was also involved in the formation and administration of the United Nations. In 1963, he was awarded the Medal of Freedom by President John F. Kennedy.
Despite his work in diplomacy and with the United Nations, Bunche remained committed to education. He served as the chairman of the political science department at Howard University from 1928 to 1950, having taught legions of students. He also served as a member of the Board of Overseers of Harvard University, his alma mater, from 1960 to 1965.
He was deeply involved in trying to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict in his capacity as assistant to the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine. Upon the death of a Swedish diplomat, Bunche became the United Nation’s chief mediator in the conflict between the two sides.
Bunche was a strong supporter of civil rights and participated in the March on Washington in 1963 and the march from Selma to Montgomery, which had a role in passing the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He died in 1971 at the age of 68.
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