Who was 1st African American to win the Nobel Peace Prize?

Known as “Mr. United Nations,” he was the 1st African American to win the Nobel Peace Prize.


In 1946, UN Secretary-General Trygve Lie “borrowed” this African American from the State Department and placed him in charge of the Department of Trusteeship of the UN to handle problems of the world’s peoples who had not yet attained self-government. He has been associated with the UN ever since.

From June of 1947 to August of 1949, he worked on the most important assignment of his career – the confrontation between Arabs and Jews in Palestine. He was first appointed as assistant to the UN Special Committee on Palestine, then as principal secretary of the UN Palestine Commission, which was charged with carrying out the partition approved by the UN General Assembly. In early 1948 when this plan was dropped and fighting between Arabs and Israelis became especially severe, the UN appointed Count Folke Bernadotte as mediator and this African American as his chief aide.

Four months later, on September 17, 1948, Count Bernadotte was assassinated, and this African American was named acting UN mediator on Palestine. After eleven months of virtually ceaseless negotiating, this African American obtained signatures on armistice agreements between Israel and the Arab States.

When this African American returned home, he received a hero’s welcome. New York gave him a ticker tape parade up Broadway; Los Angeles declared a holiday in his honor. He was besieged with requests to lecture, was awarded the Spingarn Prize by the NAACP in 1949, was given over thirty honorary degrees in the next three years, and the Nobel Peace Prize for 1950.

Q:  Who was he?

Ralph Johnson Bunche, 1904-1971
Related sources:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *