Dr. Bunche was selected for the Nobel Peace Prize Award for his work in the late 1940s in assisting in the mediation in Palestine. This would make him the 1st African-American and the 1st American of color to receive such an honor.
He released a statement:
“I have just received from Oslo a cable signed by Messrs. Gunnar Jahn and August Sochou informing me that the Nobel Committee of the Norwegian Parliament has today awarded to me the Nobel Peace Prize for 1949.
Needless to say I receive this news with deep humility for I more than anyone recognise the extent to which my peace efforts in the New East flowed from the strength of the United Nations.
I was in Palestine as an official of the United Nations, whose basic objective is world peace. For five months I was the chief assistant of Count Folke Bernadotte, the great and courageous man who gave his life in the determined effort to bring peace to Palestine. It was Count Bernadotte who achieved the first truce in Palestine, and thereby laid the essential foundations for the armistice agreements. In all of my effort I was strongly backed by the Security Council of the United Nations. Moreover, I had constantly the indispensable and invaluable support of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Trygve Lie, and his office.
In a very real sense, the task performed in Palestine was a co-operative achievement, carried out by a highly competent team of more than 700 military observers and international civil servants of many nationalities. At this moment I cannot forget that Count Bernadotte and ten other members of our team gave their lives in the effort to restore peace to Palestine.
In these crucial times when the future of all mankind hangs fatefully in the balance it is a high privilege to be associated with the work of the United Nations, man’s sole hope for peace.
I shall be inspired by this award to continue my efforts in the great cause of world peace.”