Ralph Johnson Bunche House
Ralph Johnson Bunche was an African-American scholar, prominent on the national scene throughout the 1940s and 1950s. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1949 for initiating an armistice agreement between Israel and the Arab States while he was serving as a mediator for the United Nations. His home in Kew Gardens in New York was built in 1941. The house was designed in an International style by Hilyard Robinson, a significant black architect at the time whose work includes Langston Terrace in Washington D.C.
Backstory and Context
Brunche's legacy extends beyond his academic career, as he became an important figure both domestically and globally. He played a significant role in the Civil Rights movement, serving under President Franklin Roosevelt in a role where he addressed problems facing minority communities in the country. He also gave speeches and published papers, particularly concerning the issue of segregation that divided the United States during his time. However, one of his most defining acts came in 1948 when he was assigned by the United Nations to be the mediator between the Arabs and the Israelis, who were fighting a vicious war in the Middle East. That next year, in 1949, he successfully organized negotiations between the Arab States and Israel which resulted in a ceasefire. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1950 for his efforts in the Middle East.
The Ralph Johnson Brunche House was built in 1941 when Brunche was at the start of his career and needed a home in the Brooklyn area. Brunche commissioned Hilyard Robinson, an African-American architect from Washington D.C. who was experienced in the International style, to design the home. Robinson was well-known by that time and successfully completed several buildings for Howard University, where Brunche worked. Brunche lived in the house for six years, selling it in 1947. The House received National Historic Landmark status on May 11, 1976.
"Ralph Bunche - Biographical." Nobel Prize. Accessed Web, 7/28/17. http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1950/bunche-bio.html.
Urquhart, Brian. Ralph Bunche: An American Odyssey. New York, New York. W.W. Norton & Company Inc., 1998.