Servant Leadership Profile: Ralph Bunche – Black History Month

Ralph Bunche was a political scientist & conflict mediator. He was the first person of color to receive the Nobel Peace Prize...

Note: In honor of Black History Month, I am highlighting great servant leaders from African American history. Today’s recognition goes to Ralph Bunche.

Who Was Ralph Bunche?

Ralph Bunche was a political scientist and conflict mediator. He was the first person of color to receive the Nobel Peace Prize and was an advocate and active participant in the civil rights movement. Although best known for his work negotiating the 1949 Armistice Agreements in the Arab-Israeli Conflict, he also played a major role in the foundation and advancement of the United Nations. Bunche also contributed to several Federal organizations, including the predecessor to the CIA.

What Bunche Did

Ralph Bunche - Servant Leader - Black History MonthRalph Bunche led a life of service to his country, his people and the United Nations. His many accomplishments included academic accolades, the Nobel Peace Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. These many accomplishments included:

  • Adviser for the initial conference of the United Nations
  • Participated in the drafting of the United Nations Charter
  • Played a significant role in creation and adoption of the UN Declaration of Human Rights
  • Was senior social analyst on Colonial Affairs for Office of Strategic Services (CIA) during WWII
  • Was Associate Chief of the Division of Dependent Area Affairs for the State Department
  • Began as Assistant to the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine
  • Became the Chief Mediator on the Arab-Israeli Conflict when the lead was assassinated
  • Led the committee on the 1949 Armistice Agreements
  • Became the first person of color to receive the Nobel Peace Prize
  • Mediated for the UN in many regions, including the Congo, Yemen, Kashmir, and Cyprus
  • Was an Undersecretary General of the United Nations
  • Promoted and supported the Boy Scouts of America
  • Promoted and supported Civil Rights
  • Participated in the 1963 March on Washington
  • Participated in the Selma to Montgomery (Alabama) march in support of the Voting Rights Act of 1965

Servant Leadership Quotes by Ralph Bunche

  • “There are no warlike peoples – just warlike leaders.”
  • “If you want to get across an idea, wrap it up in person.”
  • “Hearts are the strongest when they beat in response to noble ideals.”
  • “May there be, in our time, at long last, a world at peace in which we, the people, may for once begin to make full use of the great good that is in us.”
  • “I…believe in the essential goodness of my fellow man, which leads me to believe that no problem of human relations is ever insoluble.”
  • “To make our way, we must have firm resolve, persistence, tenacity. We must gear ourselves to work hard all the way. We can never let up.”
  • “We must fight as a race for everything that makes for a better country and a better world. We are dreaming idiots and trusting fools to do anything less.”
  • “We can never have too much preparation and training. We must be a strong competitor. We must adhere staunchly to the basic principle that anything less than full equality is not enough. If we compromise on that principle our soul is dead.”

Why Ralph Bunche is a Servant Leader

Mr. Bunche’s service to his country, race and conflict-torn regions everywhere was selfless. He consistently put the needs of others before his own. In so doing, he reflected the best we have to offer, even at personal risk to himself. He expressed not only concern for issues such as civil rights, peace and security but also perseverance and commitment to resolution of these matters. For these reasons and more, Mr. Ralph Bunche was an excellent example of Servant Leadership.

Further Reading on Ralph Bunche

  • Adviser for the initial conference of the United Nations
  • Participated in the drafting of the United Nations Charter

He promoted and supported the Boy Scouts of America



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Ben Lichtenwalner

Ben Lichtenwalner is the founder and principal of Modern Servant Leader and Radiant Forest, LLC. He has studied and promoted servant leadership awareness and adoption for over 20 years. He is the author of 2 leadership books and has 2 decades of corporate management and leadership experience. His corporate experience spans CIO, VP, Director, and many management roles at Fortune 500, INC 500, and Nonprofits. Ben’s education includes a B.S. in Management Science & Information Systems from Penn State University and an MBA from Lehigh University. Ben's Full Profile Here: About Ben Lichtenwalner

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