Our Historical Icons

The Dubois Bunche Center for Public Policy is honored to be named after two of the most respected scholar activists of the 20th century.

William Edward Burghardt DuBois

W.E.B. DuBois

William Edward Burghardt DuBois was born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts in 1868. He completed his undergraduate education at Fisk University; and received Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Harvard University. In 1896, he received his Ph.D. in Philosophy from Harvard University, with a doctoral dissertation entitled, “The Suppression of the African Slave Trade to the United States of America, 1638-1870;” he also did post-doctoral studies at the University of Berlin.

Kwame Nkrumah, the leader of Ghana, with W.E.B. DuBois and his wife, Shirley Graham DuBois

DuBois served on the faculties of Wilberforce University and the University of Pennsylvania, where he researched The Philadelphia Negro, America’s first sociological study of an urban Black Community. He was appointed professor of history and economics and for twenty years, produced the “Atlanta University Studies of the Negro Problem,” the definitive body of sociological research on Blacks in America. W.E.B. DuBois was a founder of the Niagara Movement, the N.A.A.C.P. and editor of its Crisis magazine. He was also a founder of the Pan African Congress, which birthed African Nations’ independence from European colonialism W.E.B. DuBois, one of the world’s great scholars, intellectuals and international activists, died in Accra, Ghana on August 27, 1963, on the eve of the March on Washington.

Ralph Johnson Bunche

Ralph Johnson Bunche

Ralph Johnson Bunche was born of humble origins in Detroit, Michigan in 1904. He graduated summa cum laude and was class valedictorian at the University of California, Los Angeles. He received his Master’s degree in Political Science; and his Ph.D. in Government and International relations from Harvard University, with the year’s best doctoral dissertation entitled, “French Administration in Togo and Dahomey.” Bunche founded the Political Science Department at Howard University; produced several scholarly works on urban Black America, politics, race and international relations and he was a major contributor to Gunnar Myrdal’s An American Dilemma, a classic work on America’s race relations.

Ralph Bunche and Eleanor Roosevelt, two United Nations Leaders

Ralph Bunche headed the African Section of the U.S. Office of Strategic Services during World War II. He was one of America’s key strategists in the formation of the United Nations; was the first African -American to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 1950 for the Arab-Israeli settlement; was a major architect of the decolonialization of Africa; and was a behind-the-scenes supporter of the American Civil Rights Movement. This great international statesman and scholar served as Under Secretary for Political Affairs at the United Nations until his death in 1971.