We Have A Black Man to Thank For The United Nations

Ralph Bunche 1951/Carl Van Vetchen/Wikimedia/Public Domain


Black folks have always known how to “keep the peace,” but no one has done it like Ralph Bunche in the early 1900s. As a talented diplomat, he left his mark on the world by creating something much bigger than himself --The United Nations.

Born in Detroit, Bunche’s father was a skilled barber and his mother played music professionally. With his parents’ backing, Bunche championed a stellar academic career which catapulted him into prestigious positions within the state and national government.

After obtaining degrees from UCLA and Harvard, he pursued post-graduate opportunities at the London School of Economics before joining the U.S. State Department. He was notably the first African-American to receive a PhD in Political Science as well.

Without Bunche, there would likely be no United Nations. His direction and negotiation skills contributed to the global organization’s founding in 1945. The UN is responsible for maintaining international security, facilitating peacekeeping efforts, and delivering humanitarian aid to countries in need.

Bunche was such a powerful force that President Harry Truman tried to poach him to come work for the White House, but he declined because he did not agree with many of the segregationist policies being purported by the administration.

Instead, he coupled his government career with civil rights activism. He participated in the March on Washington and the Selma to Montgomery March in addition to offering support to the NAACP and Urban League.

As if helping found the UN was not impressive enough, Bunche became the first Black person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. After his superior was brutally murdered in Palestine, he was asked to step in and negotiate a truce during the Arab-Israeli conflict. After three arduous years of discussions, he did just that.

In 1963, President John F. Kennedy bestowed Ralph Bunche the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which recognizes anyone who has had “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural, or other significant public or private endeavors.”

Ralph Bunche was a man of few words but took numerous actions that impacted not only the Black community, but the whole world. He honorably blazed an unbeaten path to set the stage for Blacks to enter government and demand a seat at the table.

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