Ralph Bunche: The Absolutely Indispensable Man by Kal Raustalia

About the Event: 

 Join us for a Zoom lecture/conversation on February 23 @ 7 pm with author Kal Raustalia whose book, The Absolutely Indispensable Man, explores the life of Ralph Bunche, the first black Nobel Laureate and a man who reshaped postwar diplomacy. To many in midcentury America Bunche personified both the promise and perils of the United Nations during the Cold War. Civil rights and colonialism are rarely twinned in our understanding of 20th century politics, but for Bunche they were of a piece–manifestations of white supremacy that required dismantling to achieve a just world. Decolonization was a throughline in Bunche’s career, which spanned Harvard, Howard, the State Department, and ultimately the UN, and also the impetus for several key innovations, including UN peacekeeping and mediation. Although Bunche was once so famous he handed out the Best Picture award at the 1951 Oscars, today his name is seldom mentioned in American history books, the media, the academic community or the African-American community — even in the corridors of the UN. But the legacy of his work lives on in the UN and wherever people fight for equality, justice and human dignity.

About the Speaker:

 Kal Raustiala is the Promise Institute Distinguished Professor of Comparative and International Law at UCLA Law School, Professor at the UCLA International Institute, and Director of the UCLA Ronald W. Burkle Center for International Relations. From 2012-2015 he served as UCLA’s Associate Vice Provost for International Studies and Faculty Director of the International Education Office.

Additional sources on Ralph Bunche:

1950 – Ralph Bunche, United Nations mediator in Palestine during the 1948 conflict between the Arabs and Jews  from United Nations website

Ralph Bunche Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech transcript

Ralph Bunche: Hero for Justice  video

The Legacy of Ralph Bunche: In His Own Words video

The Nobel Peace Prize 1950 article