Saturday, August 07, 2010

In Memoriam: Ralph Bunche

'And so class will some day supplant race in world affairs. Race war will then be merely a side-show to the gigantic class war which will be waged in the big tent we call the world.'

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketSo wrote diplomat and scholar Ralph Bunche, Ph.D, as long ago as 1936... His words have an eerie prescience to them, as the gap between rich and poor gets wider, and as battles between Islam and the West can be as easily categorized classist as they are racist and sectarian.

Bunche was the first person of colour to ever win the Nobel Peace Prize, which he did for his work towards peace in the Eastern Mediterranean in 1949. Yet this signal honour came at the mid-point in his career. Previously he had been a professor at Howard University (while earning his Ph.D at Harvard); latterly he worked for the United Nations, rising to the position of Under-secretary-General by the time of his retirement in 1968. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Lyndon Johnson in 1963.

Bunche - born on this day in 1903 - died in December 1971, at the age of 67, and is buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx.
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