Black History at Home and Abroad: 10 Leaders Whose Impact Went Global
Arts and Culture

Black History at Home and Abroad: 13 Leaders Whose Impact Went Global


Ralph Bunche, a Harvard University graduate, was a political scientist, academic, and diplomat who became the first African American to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his work mediating conflict between Palestine and Israel in the late 1940s.

As a student, Bunche, who was born in Detroit, studied abroad in London and Cape Town, South Africa, where he conducted postdoctoral research.

He continued to work for the United Nations after winning the Nobel Peace Prize, mediating in other regions, including the Congo, Yemen, Kashmir, and Cyprus, and he was appointed as undersecretary-general in 1968.

He would go on to serve as chair of the Department of Political Science at Howard University for more than two decades and taught generations of the esteemed HBCU’s students. He also served as a member of the Board of Overseers of Harvard University, and the board of the Institute of International Education, and as a trustee of Oberlin College, Lincoln University, and New Lincoln School.

He was active in his support of the civil rights movement and participated in the 1963 March on Washington, and those from Selma to Montgomery, and the Alabama march, which contributed to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and federal enforcement of voting rights.