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Condoleezza Rice:Ralph Bunch Societies Initiative

Remarks at the Launch of the Ralph Bunch Societies Initiative

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Benjamin Franklin Room
Washington, DC
October 27, 2006

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you. Thank you. It is a pleasure and an honor to be here today to perpetuate the legacy of Dr. Ralph Bunche. It's a privilege to pay tribute to Dr. Bunche in the presence of those who knew him personally and who continue to promote his ideals of global scholarship and peacemaking.

I would like to recognize, in particular, his daughter Joan Bunche, who herself served many years in the United Nations; Sir Brian Urquhart, former Under Secretary General at the United Nations and a colleague of Ralph Bunch; Dr. Benjamin Rivlin, whose many accomplishments include a biography of Dr. Bunch; and Dr. Badi Foster, the President of the Phelps Stokes Fund.

Ralph Bunch was a Nobel laureate, a scholar, civil rights leader, a dedicated State Department employee, and a UN civil servant. He faithfully served his country at home and superbly represented his country abroad. From humble origins, he broke racial barriers to become the first African American to receive a Ph.D. in Government from Harvard and the first person of color to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1950 for his successful mediation of the 1949 Armistice between Israel and its Arab neighbors.

Dr. Bunche's contributions to drafting the UN charter, to conflict resolution and to the advancement of civil rights and self-determination has left a rich legacy upon which we still build today.

I welcome the Phelps Stokes Fund initiative to carry on Ralph Bunche's legacy with the next generation of future peacemakers and scholars. The fund will establish Ralph Bunch Societies at U.S. universities to help them develop leaders for a global society and to stimulate interest in international leadership careers. The first Ralph Bunch Society will be established at Winston-Salem State University, and we are joined today by its chancellor, Dr. Michelle Howard-Vital.

Dr. Bunche's remarkable achievements and examples set a leadership example for public service that is still there as an ideal for the men and women of the State Department. Ralph Bunch Societies can help students become more engaged in international affairs and transform themselves into global citizens. As the State Department transforms itself to the meet the challenges of the future, Ralph Bunche remains a role model for all seeking to promote a safer and freer and more peaceful world.

And if I could just say from a personal perspective, I remember well the name and legacy of Ralph Bunche as a little girl growing up in Birmingham, Alabama and what he meant to me as a young African American. As we stand here in the Ben Franklin Room, named for one of our founding fathers who might never have imagined that we would have been honoring an African American of Ralph Bunche's stature and maybe certainly wouldn't have imagined that we would have been here in the person -- that I would have been here in the person of the second African American to be the Secretary of State of the United States of America. I think this moment to honor Ralph Bunche's legacy both gives us a chance to recognize how important it is that America's diversity be reflected in those who go out to carry out of foreign policy, and to remind us that when we talk about democracy and the promotion of democracy abroad that it's not easy, that America's own history shows that democracy takes time, and that living up to the grand tenets and principles of democracy is something that you have to work at each and every day.

And so I want to thank you for joining us in celebrating Ralph Bunche's legacy. Again, I want to thank the Phelps Stokes Fund for this initiative and I look very much forward to the outcomes of that initiative, which I hope will be increased diversification of our Foreign Service and Civil Service as we go to do America's work around the world.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)


Released on October 27, 2006


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