Bunche was highly committed to helping colonized countries regain
their autonomy through peaceful means. He was instrumental in drafting
Chapters 11 and 12 of the United Nations Charter, dealing with non-self-governing
territories and the International Trusteeship System. He worked
diligently to help African countries gain their independence from
European colonizers and to assist in their transition to self-governing
lesson has students learn about European and American colonization
and investigate Bunches involvement in the decolonization
process. Theyll conclude by researching a current United Nations
decolonization initiative and explaining what Bunche might have
recommended be done about the matter.
and discuss colonialism and self-determination.
and discuss 19th century Europeans statements
a map of imperialism in 1914.
segments from Ralph Bunche: An American Odyssey.
and answer questions about Bunches views and activities
and take notes on United Nations documents, including chapters
from the UN Charter, on decolonization and self-determination.
a current UN effort to promote decolonization and self-determination,
and write letters pretending theyre Bunche and expressing
what his view on the matter would have been.
Bunche: An American Odyssey
with Internet connection (ideal, but not mandatory)
History Standards (from McREL: http://www.mcrel.org/standards-benchmarks)
36: Understands patterns of global change in the era of Western
military and economic dominance from 1800 to 1914
43: Understands how post-World War II reconstruction occurred,
new international power relations took shape, and colonial empires
44: Understands the search for community, stability, and peace
in an interdependent world
Standards (from McREL: http://www.mcrel.org/standards-benchmarks)
22: Understands how the world is organized politically into nation-states,
how nation-states interact with one another, and issues surrounding
U.S. foreign policy
students if they know what the word "colonialism" means.
If not, have a student look up the word in a dictionary. What
colonies have students heard about or studied? What is their impression
a student look up the word "self-determination," and
ask students to explain how this concept relates to colonialism.
Are students aware of any particular struggles for self-determination?
students visit the following Web sites to read statements that
Europeans made about the practice of colonialism. Ask them to
explain in a paragraph or a class discussion the ways in which
these Europeans justified this practice. Students should notice
both the economic and the racial justifications.
students look at the
Imperialism and the Balance of Power map, and answer the following
questions about what the map shows. Discuss students responses
as a class.
continents were the most heavily colonized in 1914?
European countries had the greatest number of colonies?
were the racial and ethnic differences between the colonial
powers and the colonized regions?
might these racial and ethnic differences have implied about
Europeans attitudes toward the colonized people?
students with a brief introduction to Ralph Bunche. Explain that
Bunche was a scholar and diplomat who devoted his life to promoting
decolonization and human rights. He worked for the Office of Strategic
Services, the State Department and then the United Nations and
was the first person of color, anywhere in the world, to be awarded
the Nobel Peace Prize, in 1950. Bunche earned this honor for his
work toward peace in the Middle East. Bunche was also instrumental
in helping African nations in their transition from colonies to
students the following segments from the video. As they view each
segment, they should take notes to answer the question "What
did Bunche think and do about colonialism, decolonization, and
dissertation and African colonialism
and A World View of Race
of World War II and Bunche's new roles in the government
Francisco conference and the UN Charter
conflict, African decolonization
students continue to learn about Bunches attitudes toward
colonialism at the PBS
Ralph Bunche Web site, and ask them to read about Bunches
views on colonialism. They may also wish to read excerpts from
A World View of Race, which may be available in the public
library (and can be obtained through William Greaves Productions
As they read the materials, have them answer the following questions:
did Bunche think of colonialism?
to Bunche, what is the relationship between colonialism and
what ways did Bunche feel colonialism was related to the status
of civil rights in the United States?
the class that Bunche was involved in drafting the United Nations
Charter. Tell them that he was particularly instrumental in drafting
chapters 11 and 12, which deal with issues related to decolonization
and self-determination. Have them read these two chapters at the
Nations Web site. They should also look at the December 8,
2000 United Nations press release concerning the 40th
anniversary of the declaration of decolonization (to find this
document, they should search the press releases for "decolonization"
and find the December 8, 2000 press releases). Ask students to
take notes on and then discuss as a class the United Nations
view of colonialism and its role in eliminating colonialism.
students perform a "case study" of a present-day situation
in which the United Nation is assisting a country on its path
to self-determination. They should find a country or territory
UN Decolonization Unit page. They should then browse the UN
Web site and one or two news sites, such as CNN
or BBC News,
and search for other Web resources to find out about the history
of this situation and current decolonization activities. Ask them
to write letters that Bunche may have written if he were alive
today, providing a background of the situation, describing the
UNs role, and explaining his opinion of what should be done
and why. Their letters should address the following points:
brief historical background of the situation.
overview of the United Nations activities and goals in
this location today.
opinions of how this situation should be handled and what the
United Nations, the United States, and other world powers should
explanation of why Bunche feels this way: what fundamental beliefs
does Bunche hold that make him believe that these actions should
a closing class discussion in which students compare the struggles
for self-determination that theyve learned about in this
lesson with other types of colonialism and struggles for independence
that have occurred or are occurring in the world. For example,
ask students to explain the similarities and differences between
the American colonies fight for independence and the African
struggles in which Bunche was involved. Also point out that the
process of colonization is still going on today in Brazil, where
the last of the Amazon rainforest region and its people are being
taken over, wiped out, or assimilated by more technologically-advanced
outsiders. How does this situation compare with the ones students
have studied in this lesson? (To continue teaching about issues
in Brazil, use the two
lesson plans at Journey to Amazonia that deal with self-determination
of rainforest peoples: "Chico Mendes of Brazil" and
"World Trade Protests: Why All the Fuss?").
every class is different, every teacher will assess students in
slightly different ways. However, areas of consideration should
include the following:
in class discussions.
following all directions.
clear and accurate notes on the information they read and view
in the video.
answering all questions when asked to provide written answers.
letters that reflect a careful consideration of Bunches
views on decolonization, provide realistic examples of things
Bunche might say about the situation, and address all four of
the required points.
a class debate over the role the United States should play in
assisting the self-determination of other countries and territories.
Questions to be debated may include: Should the United States
send troops to territories that are fighting for self-determination?
How fully should the United States support and participate in
United Nations activities regarding self-determination? Does United
States participation in self-determination activities for other
countries or territories detract from its ability to tend to internal
matters, such as civil rights and social justice, or does U.S.
participation facilitate civil rights within the U.S.?
a mock United Nations meeting in which each student or pair of
students represents a different country. Assign a variety of countries,
including the United States, a few western European countries,
a former Soviet nation, and some African, Asian, and Latin American
countries. The meeting should concern the question of whether
the UN should formally support self-determination or decolonization
for a particular country or territory, which can be selected from
UN Decolonization Unit page. Students should research the
history, economy, and political system of their assigned countries
as well as the decolonization situation youve selected.
Have them present their views on UN involvement from the perspective
of their assigned countrys leaders, addressing the following
questions: What is your governments history; was your country
ever colonized or is your country a colonizer? What are your countrys
economic interests, if any, in the territory under question? Considering
the political system in your country, what views is your government
likely to take concerning whether a territory should be granted
students to look carefully at a map of present-day Africa, and
ask them why they think the countries have the boundaries that
they do. Have students research the Scramble for Africa and the
division of African territories after World War I to find out
why African countries have their current national boundaries.
They should use the Scramble
for Africa Web site and other resources.
students find out what major African American leaders, such as
Marcus Garvey, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X, said about
colonialism. What is the relationship between colonialism and
civil rights, according to these leaders? They can find some relevant
statements at the following Web sites:
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