Ralph J. Bunche: Selected Speeches and Writings is the only collection currently available of speeches and writings many unpublished and previously unavailable of one of this century's foremost African-American political and intellectual leaders.
Bunche was a pioneer in every sense of the word. The first black American to hold a doctorate in political science, Bunche established the political science department at Howard University and co-founded the National Negro Congress. He served as the first African- American section head in the Office of Strategic Services and later moved to the State Department. He played a major part in the delegation that established the United Nations and, when he retired as Under Secretary General, was the highest- ranking black in that organization. In 1950, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and thus became the first black Nobel laureate.
Bunche's thinking and writing was broad, ranging from the political left to the center. Early works flirt with socialist or even Bolshevist ideas, while later works maintained that a flawed American democracy was better than an impending threat of Nazi-influenced fascism. Bunche was one of the first African Americans to do academic work in Africa, forcing him to think through notions of colonialism and class that would influence his work at the United Nations. Although his passion for peace and civil rights never faltered, his relationship with American black movements vascillated from an early embrace of radicalism to a significant distancing during the mid-sixties to a final rapprochement during the last years of his life. A monumental contribution, Ralph J. Bunche: Selected Speeches and Writings reasserts the thinking of a great American whose views are entirely relevant to a generation still striving for the world Bunche envisioned.
Charles P. Henry is Associate Professor of African American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.
From the book:
"I abhor racism as a dangerous virus, whether it is spread by white or black peoples. I seek total integration, which to me means the Negro taking his place in the very mainstream of American life . . . . My ancestors have contributed very much to the development of this country and therefore I have a vested interest in it that I intend to realize and protect."
"It seems painfully clear to me that there is no possibility in the affluent, highly industrialized and technological white-majority American society for anyone to be at once black, separate and equal."
"The colonial system in its modern version, implicitly arrogant and self-serving, was instituted and perpetuated chiefly by self-righteous and superior- minded Europeans. Its positive achievements notwithstanding, colonialism's evil legacies will bedevil the world for years to come."