When I began this Black History Month series I asked a question as an example to why it’s still important and relevant to celebrate BHM. The question was “Who was the 1st African American to win the Nobel Peace Prize?” Like most, I used to think it was Dr. King. And that would be wrong. The correct answer is Ralph Johnson Bunche. I didn’t learn that from the history books or research for a paper or even this series. I learn that Bunche was awarded the prize by watching the HBO series “The Soprano’s.”
I was a fan of the show. It was about a reluctant Mob Boss that regularly visited a psychiatrist, or a head shrink as the wise guys would say. They gave us an inside look at the sex, drugs, violence, love and emotional turmoil that the family and THE FAMILY had to deal with.
One particular episode, the Mob had taken over a construction site where they ran their illegal activities. One of the workers was given a Mobster a little grief and they were about to square off. Just then a black construction worker tried to be the voice of reason and get in between them. That’s when another Mobster grabbed a metal pipe and “whacked” the peace maker right upside the dome. He then yelled, “What are you, Ralph Bunche?” and proceeded to beat him like a drum.
I remember replaying the scene just so I could hear what he said, and once I figured it out, I Googled the name.
Then I got it. Ralph Bunche had won the Nobel Peace Prize for his mediation work between the Jews and the Palestinians. It feels good to know that the time I wasted watching that show actually gave me some useful information. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve pull that little known Black History fact out of my hat. Needless to say, I’m awfully proud to have learned about Bunche, no matter how it happened.
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