Ralph J. Bunche won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1950 for his success in mediating the armistice that ended the first Arab-Israeli war in 1949. Working at the United Nations from its founding in 1946 until months before his death in 1971, Bunche was, among other things, the driving force behind the creation of the UN peacekeeping forces. Prior to his work for the United Nations, Bunche was one of the leading Africanists of his generation and in the early 1940s was tapped for this expertise by the Office of Strategic Services and then the State Department.
Raised in Los Angeles, educated at the University of California, Los Angeles, and then Harvard (where he was the first African American to earn a doctorate in political science), Bunche taught at Howard University through the 1930s. There, he established the department of political science and wed his political activism with his scholarship on Africa, race and class politics, education, and public policy. He played a central role in researching the Carnegie Foundation's massive study, An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy. In the process of that work, Bunche generated over three thousand pages of memos for Gunnar Myrdal, the study's director, to consider.
Jonathan Scott Holloway is Professor of African American Studies, History, and American Studies at Yale University. He has published widely on the intellectual and social history of black Americans in the twentieth century. He and his family live in New Haven, Connecticut.