An African American in South Africa: the travel notes of by Ralph J. Bunche

By Ralph J. Bunche

Ralph Bunche, who obtained the Nobel Peace Prize in 1950, traveled to South Africa for 3 months in 1937. His notes, which were skillfully compiled and annotated via historian Robert R. Edgar, supply precise insights on a segregated society.

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Additional info for An African American in South Africa: the travel notes of Ralph J. Bunche, 28 September 1937-1 January 1938

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Stuck close to Mal. 51 In his diary, Bunche speculated that the real cause of the trouble between the two was likely over a girl friend. Bunche also attended many rallies and concerts centered around the Spanish Civil War and the Italian invasion of Ethiopia. Ethiopia's plight had aroused passionate outrage and concern in the African-American community. He contemplated taking a side trip to Ethiopia. Though Herskovits warned him, "though you might get in, getting out again would be something else,"52 Bunche decided against the tripnot because of the risks, but because it would reduce the amount of time he could spend elsewhere.

By all accounts he was a person who prided himself on his ability to maintain a calm demeanor in difficult circumstances. But it is also a measure of how he defined his role in South Africa: a disciplined social scientist recording what he was observing as accurately as possible. His intent was not so much "writing race" as writing about it. II The details of Bunche's celebrated life are well known. However, a brief account of his academic and political career will provide a useful context to help understand the background of his visit to South Africa.

Stuck close to Mal. 51 In his diary, Bunche speculated that the real cause of the trouble between the two was likely over a girl friend. Bunche also attended many rallies and concerts centered around the Spanish Civil War and the Italian invasion of Ethiopia. Ethiopia's plight had aroused passionate outrage and concern in the African-American community. He contemplated taking a side trip to Ethiopia. Though Herskovits warned him, "though you might get in, getting out again would be something else,"52 Bunche decided against the tripnot because of the risks, but because it would reduce the amount of time he could spend elsewhere.

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