This Day in Black History: Aug. 7, 1904

Ralph Bunche

This Day in Black History: Aug. 7, 1904

Diplomat and Nobel Peace Prize winner Ralph Bunche was born in Detroit on Aug. 7, 1904.

Published August 7, 2012

Ralph Bunche received the Nobel Prize in 1950. (Photo:

Pioneering diplomat and Nobel Peace Prize winner Ralph Bunche was born on Aug. 7, 1904.


Bunche is known for playing a pivotal role in mediating the Palestinian conflict in the late 1940s and becoming the first person of color to receive a Nobel Peace Prize.


Bunche earned a degree in international relations from the University of California at Los Angeles and paid for his studies with an athletic scholarship and a janitorial job, graduating summa cum laude. He then went on to attend Harvard University, earning both a master’s degree and a doctorate in political science. While finishing his doctoral studies, Bunche began teaching at Howard University and later established and chaired the University’s Department of Political Science.


Later, Bunche worked as an adviser to the Department of State and to the military on Africa and "colonial areas of strategic military importance" during World War II.


Beginning in June 1947, Bunche began working to help mediate the conflict between Arabs and Jews in Palestine. After one year working as an aide, Bunche was named acting United Nations mediator on Palestine. His efforts resulted in the signing armistice agreements after negotiators previously tried to reach a deal for eleven months without progress. In 1950, Bunche was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for his work on the conflict.



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Written by Naeesa Aziz


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