Chronological Biography of Ralph Bunche
1903 Born on 7 August in Detroit, Michigan; son of Fred Bunch, a barber, and Oli...
1929 Organized and became chair of the Political Science department at Howard; promoted to
assistant professor.
Awarded ...
1937 With a 2-year grant from the Social Science Research Council, Studied anthropology with
Bronislow Malinowski at the...
Appointed U.S. Commissioner on the Caribbean Commission.
Served as member of the U.S. delegation to the preparatory comm...
1960 Organized and headed UN peacekeeping operations in Congo, where civil war had broken out
shortly after independence...
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Ralph Bunche Chronological Biography


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Ralph Bunche Chronological Biography
Andrew Williams Jr
Email: aj@trn.tv
Mobile: +1-424-222-1997
Skype: andrew.williams.jr

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Ralph Bunche Chronological Biography

  1. 1. 1 Chronological Biography of Ralph Bunche 1903 Born on 7 August in Detroit, Michigan; son of Fred Bunch, a barber, and Olive Agnes Johnson. 1910- 1914 Started elementary school in Detroit. When family moved to Toledo (Ohio) and Knoxville (Tennessee). 1914 Family moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico. 1917 Orphaned in Albuquerque. Mother died of tuberculosis, favorite uncle committed suicide, and father left Albuquerque to look for work but never returned. Moved to Los Angeles to live with his maternal grandmother, Mrs. Lucy Taylor Johnson, and mother's brother; changed spelling of his name to Bunche. 1918 Graduated with honors from 30th Street Intermediate School in Los Angeles where he was first shunted into "practical" courses for Negro children until his grandmother insisted that he be given academic courses to prepare him for college. 1922 Graduated first in his class and valedictorian from Jefferson High School in Los Angeles; denied election to citywide scholarship honor society because of his race; while in high school worked as newsboy for Los Angeles Times and in his last year as a carpet layer. Entered southern branch of the University of California (later to become UCLA) on a scholarship, which he augmented by working at a wide variety of jobs, including summers on a coastwise merchant ship; excelled in football, basketball, and baseball; president of debating society; student council leader; college newspaper reporter; majored in political science and philosophy. 1927 Graduated summa cum laude from UCLA and class valedictorian. Wrote to W.E.B. Du Bois, requesting help in finding an opportunity to perform social service for his people before going on to graduate school. Received a tuition fellowship for graduate study in political science at Harvard; received additional support from a black ladies' organization, The Iroquois Friday Morning Civic and Social Club, which established The Ralph Bunche Scholarship Fund to help cover transportation and other expenses; worked in Phillips second-hand bookstore at Harvard Square. 1928 Raymond Buell published The Native Problem in Africa. Argues that in the French Mandates of Togo and Cameroons, the military, educational and native policies are better than in French colonies. Considered Hertzog’s introduction of legislation to build parallel While and Black communities in South Africa will reduce racial conflict. Called Indirect Rule an experiment in self-determination. Bunche receives his of M.A. in Government from Harvard; appointed Instructor at Howard University in Washington, D.C. Buell wrote to Professor Alain Locke of Howard that he would like to see an American Negro take a thorough study of the situation in Africa Locke produced report on the Mandate System commissioned by the Foreign Policy Association. Historian Rayford Logan published “The Operation of the Mandate System in Africa, 1919- 1927” in The Journal of Negro History.
  2. 2. 2 1929 Organized and became chair of the Political Science department at Howard; promoted to assistant professor. Awarded Osias Goodwin fellowship at Harvard to complete course work for doctorate. 1930 Married in June to Ruth Ethel Harris; spent summer at Harvard working in his doctoral dissertation. 1931 Returned to teaching at Howard; appointed as assistant to President Mordecai Johnson. 1932 Awarded Julius Rosenwald Fellowship to do field work in Africa on his doctoral dissertation comparing rule of a mandated area, French Togoland, with that of a French colony, Dahomey. 1933 Promoted to associate professor at Howard University. Attended conference of 33 young black intellectuals held in Amenia, NY at the estate of NAACP president Joel Spingarn. Gathering organized for the NAACP by DuBois to bring new thinking to the problems of race in the midst of the Depression. 1934 Completed Ph.D. in government and international relations, the first black man to earn this degree at Harvard; awarded the Toppan Prize for the year's best dissertation in political science at Harvard. Resumed teaching duties at Howard. Bunche published “French Educational Policy in Togo and Dahomey” in the Journal of Negro Education. Was co-director of the Institute of Race Relations at Swarthmore College during the summer. 1935 Helped organize conference at Howard University assessing the role of the New Deal on the economic crisis facing Negroes in the United States; presented critique of New Deal social planning. W.E.B. DuBois published “A Nation within a Nation” in Current History. Bunche condemned his thesis of racial separation. 1936 Co-Director, Institute of Race Relations, Swarthmore College. Undertook postdoctoral study in anthropology at Northwestern University. Awarded a Social Science Research council Fellowship to pursue postdoctoral studies in anthropology and colonial policy at the London School of Economics and at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, and for field research in South, East, and West Africa. Helped found the National Negro Congress, which Bunche described as the first sincere effort to bring together, on an equal plane, Negro leaders, professional, and white-collar workers with Negro manual workers and their leaders and organizers. Published “French and British Imperialism in West Africa” in the Journal of Negro History. Published monograph, A World View of Race. Treats race as a social construction. Explains racial discrimination by economic factors – particularly capitalism and imperialism. Organized protest against presentation of Porgy and Bess at the segregated National Theatre in Washington, D. C.; succeeded in having theater integrated during run of the play.
  3. 3. 3 1937 With a 2-year grant from the Social Science Research Council, Studied anthropology with Bronislow Malinowski at the London School of Economics. Studied Swahili with Jomo Kenyatta, future President of Kenya. Studied anthropology with Isaac Shapera at the University of Cape Town in south Africa; began taking field notes in September. Visited Lesotho, Alice, Thaba’ Nchu, Bloemfontein, Mafeking, Johannesburg, Benoni, Pretoria, and Durban. 1938 Did field research in Kenya. Met with wide variety of Indians, Africans and colonial government officials. Took hundreds of notes on numerous subjects, twelve thousand still photographs, and fourteen thousand feet of film. In Kenya, gave frequent speeches in Swahili emphasizing his African ancestors. Was given the name “Karioki,” signifying in Swahili, “he who returned from the dead.” Jomo Kenyatta published Facing Mount Kenya. Promoted to Professor at Howard University. 1939 Participated in historic Carnegie study directed by Swedish sociologist Gunnar Myrdal on the status and life of blacks in the United States, which resulted in the publication, An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy. A manuscript prepared for this study, The Political Status of the Negro in the Age of FDR, was published posthumously by the University of Chicago Press in 1973. Prepared a report at the invitation of the Republican party's Program Committee on why blacks had deserted the party of Lincoln. Published “The Land Equation in Kenya Colony (As Seen by a Kikuyu Chief)” in the Journal of Negro History. Agreed with Kenyatta’s position on land alienation and African nationalism. 1941 Published “The Irua Ceremony among the Kikuyu of Kiambu District, Kenya,” in the Journal of Negro History. Took issue with Kenyatta’s position on female circumcision. Recruited to work as senior social science analyst in the Africa and Far East Section of the Office of the Coordinator of Information (OCI), which later became the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), Research and Analysis Branch. The OSS was precursor to the CIA. 1942 Appointed as head of the Africa Section of OSS's Research and Analysis Branch. Collaborated in the drafting and publication of The Atlantic Charter and Africa from an American Standpoint as member of the Committee on Africa, the War and Peace Aims. 1944 Joined the State Department's postwar planning unit; worked on future of colonial territories. Served as a specialist on colonial matters in the U.S. delegation at the Dumbarton Oaks conference on the future of a world organization. 1945 Appointed to the Division of Dependent Area Affairs in the Office of Special Political Affairs of the State Department. Served as advisor to the U.S. delegation at the San Francisco conference that drafted the UN Charter. Served as advisor to the U.S. delegation to the 27th and 28th sessions of the International Labor Organization Conference.
  4. 4. 4 Appointed U.S. Commissioner on the Caribbean Commission. Served as member of the U.S. delegation to the preparatory committee of the United Nations that met in London. 1946 Served as member of the U.S. delegation to the first session of the United Nations General Assembly in London in January. Joined the newly formed UN Secretariat as head of the Trusteeship Division. 1947 Assigned to the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) as Special Assistant to Dr. Victor Hoo, the representative of the UN Secretary-General. Drafted both majority and minority reports on Palestine partition. 1948 Appointed Principal Secretary, United Nations Palestine Commission, and later Personal Representative of the Secretary-General with the United Nations Mediator on Palestine, Count Folke Bernadotte. Succeeded Bernadotte as Acting Mediator on the latter's assassination in September. 1949 Chaired UN mediation efforts at Rhodes, successfully negotiating an armistice agreement between Egypt and Israel. This agreement set the pattern for additional armistice agreements reached between Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan, respectively, and Israel. Awarded Spingarn Medal of the NAACP; became a director of the NAACP, serving until his death. Received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Harvard University. (In all, Bunche received 69 honorary degrees.) 1950 Awarded Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating the armistice agreement between Egypt and Israel; Bunch was the first black person in the world to be accorded this recognition. 1953 Elected President of the American Political Science Association. Turned down offer of post as Assistant Secretary of State by President Truman because of Jim Crow conditions in Washington, D.C. Appointed full professor of political science with tenure at Harvard; deferred assuming position and eventually resigned; opted to continue his service in the United Nations. Summoned by the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee counsel and asked if he had ever been a member of the Communist Party. 1954 Bunche called testify before the Loyalty Board to respond to two witnesses who said he was a concealed Communist. Eventually cleared of the charges. The Board unanimously concluded that there was no doubt of the loyalty of Dr. Bunche to the US government. Appointed Under-Secretary-General (without portfolio) of the United Nations. 1955 Appointed trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation, serving until his death. 1956 Helped organize and then directed UN peacekeeping operations in the Middle East after the Suez Crisis. 1957 Became Under-Secretary-General for Special Political Affairs with prime responsibility for UN peacekeeping activities.
  5. 5. 5 1960 Organized and headed UN peacekeeping operations in Congo, where civil war had broken out shortly after independence. Congolese President Kasavubu dismissed Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba for “involving the country in civil war. Lumumba countered and dismissed Kasavubu. 29 year old Colonel Mobutu, encouraged by the CIA, announced he was taking control in the name of the Council of Technicians, and ordered the Soviet and Czechoslovak embassies to leave the Congo. Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba held under house arrest by Mobutu’s troops. 1961 Lumumba assassinated. A riot broke out in the public gallery of the UN Security Council following news of Lumumba’s death; demonstrators verbally castigated the UN. Bunche issued a formal letter of apology to senior UN officials for the conduct of the demonstrators. Bunche received an avalanche of angry letters from African-Americans. 1962 Organized and directed UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus. 1963 Designated by President John F. Kennedy to receive the Medal of Freedom, which was presented to him by President Lyndon Johnson. Set up the UN Observation Mission that operated in Yemen following the war between Yemen and South Yemen. 1965 Participated in Selma, Alabama, civil rights march. Supervised the cease-fire following the Indo-Pakistan war. 1971 Retired from the United Nations due to ill health. Died on 9 December. Source: Benjamin Rivlin, editor, Ralph Bunche: The Man and His Times (NY, Holmes & Meier, 1990), pp. xix-xxiv, supplemented by Pearl T. Robinson