Ralph J. Bunche

Selected Speeches and Writings
Charles P. Henry, Editor
Restores the forgotten legacy of a leader for peace


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J. Bunche: Selected Speeches and Writings is the only collection currently available of speeches and writings many unpublished and previously unavailable of one of this century's foremost African-American political and intellectual leaders.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.

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."

Charles P. Henry is Associate Professor of African American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.

Praise / Awards

  • "Skillfully edited with a splendid introduction by [Charles P.] Henry, this outstanding collection of essays evokes a day when the black quest for equal justice attained a degree of dignity lacking in many present-day advocates."

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Acknowledgments ix
Introduction 1
Part 1. The Early Years
1. "That Man May Dwell in Peace" (1926) 17
2. "Across the Generation Gap" (1926-27) 21
3. "Negro Political Philosophy" (1928) 27
4. "Marxism and the 'Negro Question'" (1929) 35
Part 2. American Politics
5. "A Critical Analysis of the Tactics and Programs of Minority Groups" (1935) 49
6. "A Critique of New Deal Social Planning as It Affects Negroes" (1936) 63
7. "The Problems of Organizations Devoted to the Improvement of the Status of the American Negro" (1939) 71
8. "Introduction to a Confidential Report to the Republican Party" (1939) 85
9. "The Negro in the Political Life of the U.S." (1941) 93
Part 3. Africa
10. "French Educational Policy in Togoland and Dahomey" (1934) 115
11. "Africa and the Current World Conflict" (1940) 143
12. "The Irua Ceremony among the Kikuyu of Kiambu District, Kenya" (1941) 149
Part 4. The United Nations
13. "Man, Democracy, and Peace---Foundations for Peace: Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms" (1950) 165
14. "Review and Appraisal of Israeli-Arab Relations" (1951) 175
15. "The UN Operation in the Congo" (1964) 189
Part 5. Race, Education, and Human Rights
16. "What Is Race?" (1936) 207
17. "The Role of the University in the Political Orientation of Negro Youth" (1940) 221
18. "The Framework for a Course in Negro History" (1940) 231
19. "NAACP Convention Address" (1951) 239
20. "Gandhian Seminar" (1952) 249
21. "March on Montgomery Speech" (1965) 259
Part 6. Iconography
22. "Nothing Is Impossible for the Negro" (1949) 263
23. "What America Means to Me" (1950) 267
Part 7. Black Power and Blackism
24. "Upheavals in the Ghettos" (1967) 279
25. "The Black Revolution" (1968) 297
26. "Race and Alienation" (1969) 305
Notes 317
Index 325

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 344pp.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 1996
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-10589-2

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  • $79.95 U.S.