Black Nobel Prize Winners

February 22, 2011  |  

By Steven Barboza

In the 109 years since the first Nobel Prizes were awarded, 813 individuals, including 40 women and 20 organizations, have won the award.  Six  laureates have won more than one award. Only 12 awards have gone to black people.  They are:

Ralph Bunche, Nobel Peace Prize, 1950

Country: United States

Ralph Bunche (1904-1971) was the first black Nobel laureate.  He won the Peace Prize in 1950 for negotiating an armistice agreement between Arabs and Jews after nearly a year of negotiating terms in Palestine.  Bunche was born in Detroit to a barber and an amateur musician.  His grandmother, who was born a slave, lived with the family.  Bunche moved to Los Angeles and excelled in school.  He sold newspapers,  served as house boy to a movie actor and supported his college education with scholarships and janitorial work.  He taught at Howard University while earning a doctorate at Harvard University.  He eventually became a member of FDR’s Black Cabinet of minority advisors, and in the late 1940s worked on loan from the US State Department to the UN.  Upon securing peace in the Middle East, he was greeted in New York with a ticker tape parade.

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