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Bunche was not inclined to seek the limelight. However, he recognized the unique opportunity that his celebrity presented and used the media to advance the cause of racial progress. In pursuit of this, he accepted numerous accolades, citations, honors and medals (including the Presidential Medal of Freedom). He was awarded 69 honorary degrees including Harvard and other top universities throughout the world. He gave hundreds of speeches and was featured in magazines like the Saturday Evening Post, Ebony, Time, and Newsweek. A Readers Digest article noted that "Ralph Bunche has become a legend in the land." *


"John D. Rockefeller dined at his home. Movie stars sent him fan letters. Schools were named after him. He was the houseguest of admirals and celebrities when he traveled. Both political parties asked him to run for office. Job offers poured in from Harvard, Chicago, the University of California at Berkeley, and other prestigious universities. The Brooklyn Dodgers sent season tickets, and Broadway shows vied to have him attend their openings."

- From Ralph J. Bunche: Selected Speeches and Writings, edited with an introduction by Charles P. Henry



The demands of celebrity and of a society focused on race created enormous pressures on Bunche and his family.





* Quoted in "Ralph Bunche: The Man and His Times," edited by Benjamin Rivlin.

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