Tagged with "john"
John Cena Tags: greatest wrestler all time john cena word life production new quality entertainment

Professional wrestler John Cena took home the United States WWE Championship, defeating The Big Show in March 2004 in Wrestlemania XX.

John Cena was born April 23, 1977, in West Newbury, Massachusetts. Calling himself "The Prototype," he captured the UPW title in 2000. In 2001 he signed a contract to work at Ohio Valley Wrestling. He captured the OVW heavyweight title in February 2002, then made his WWE debut that June. Two years later, he took the United States Championship. Since then he has notched many wins and titles.

At an early age, Cena showed a passion for sports and working out. By the time he was 15 he was a regular gym rat and, after graduating high school, Cena headed off to Springfield College in Massachusetts to study exercise physiology and prove his worth on the football field. At Springfield, Cena turned himself into a Division III All-American offensive lineman and team captain.

In 2000, the new college graduate left the Bay State despite his father's wishes, seeking a new life in California as a body builder. It wasn't an easy transition for the 6-foot 1-inch aspiring star. He had just $500 in his pocket to make it across country and get settled. To make ends meet, he folded towels and cleaned toilets at a Gold's Gym in Venice Beach. And because he couldn't afford an apartment, he shacked up in his 1991 Lincoln Continental.

But the turning point came in early 2000, during a casual conversation Cena had with a wrestler at Gold's who encouraged the gym employee to take classes at Ultimate Pro Wrestling (UPW), a former World Wrestling Entertainment developmental company.

For Cena, the suggestion of making a go of it as a wrestler wasn't an entirely outlandish idea. His father, John, Sr. (a.k.a. Johnny Fabulous) made a living as a wrestling announcer and businessman. As a kid growing up in suburban Massachusetts, the younger Cena spent many hours glued to the television set as he watched his wrestling heroes such as Hulk Hogan, Ultimate Warrior and Shawn Michaels go at it in the ring.

As a wrestler himself, Cena's ascension was rapid. Calling himself "The Prototype," the ambitious Cena captured the UPW title on April 27, 2000, in San Diego, California. Over the course of the next year, Cena drew the attention of WWE executives, and in 2001 the young enterntainer signed a developmental contract with the company to work at Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW).

WWE Debut

Cena captured the OVW heavyweight title in February 2002, then made his WWE debut that June when he signed up with the Smackdown roster. Just two years later, Cena took home the United States Championship, defeating The Big Show in March 2004 in Wrestlemania XX.

In the years since, Cena has notched many wins and titles. In 2007, he became the first wrestler to ever come up victorious against Edward "Umaga" Fatu.

Along the way Cena, whose good looks and sculpted body have earned him the title "The Marky Mark of Wrestling", has greatly increased his celebrity. Like Hogan, Cena has proven that his showmanship in the ring crosses over into venues outside of it.

Ventures Outside Wrestling

Through the production wing of WWE, Cena has starred in two action films, The Marine (2006) and 12 Rounds (2009), the latter featuring the wrestler trying to save his girlfriend from a gang of terrorists in New Orleans.

In addition, Cena, who has long had an affinity for hip-hop culture, became a recording artist when his rap album, You Can't See Me, hit record stores in 2005. The recording debuted on the U.S. Billboard chart at No. 15. His credits also include appearances on NBC's Celebrity Apprentice.

In 2015, Cena received critical praise for his acting skills in the hit comedy Trainwreck, directed by Judd Apatow and written by the film's star Amy Schumer. Cena played Schumer's sensitive muscle-bound boyfriend. “I got my chance to throw my sense of humor out into the world, and at the same time play this hulky guy who’s a softy, which in real life I’m a very emotional guy,” Cena told Business Insider.

In his personal life, Cena married his girlfriend, Elizabeth Huberdeau, in July 2009. In May 2012, Cena filed for divorce, allegedly shocking Huberdeau. Their messy separation played out in the media, but they eventually settled in July of that year.

Source: Biography.com

John Legend on the Art of Soul
Category: The Art of Soul
Tags: john legend art soul word life production new quality entertainment featured blog

Singer-songwriter John Legend won his first Grammy Award with 2004's Get Lifted. The album went platinum, thanks in part to the hit single "Ordinary People."

 “I come from a city where 40 percent to 50 percent of our kids drop out of high school. I did well in high school and then went to an Ivy League school, but I was the exception. We need to do more to make sure every kid has a quality education.”

—John Legend

John Legend was born on December 28, 1978, in Springfield, Ohio. He became an in-demand session musician and songwriter, working with such artists as Alicia Keys, Twista and Janet Jackson. He was soon introduced to up-and-coming hip-hop artist Kanye West, and the two musicians collaborated on one another's demos. Legend's debut album, 2004's Get Lifted, won three Grammy Awards. He released his collaboration with the Roots, Wake Up!, in 2010. Legend also appeared on the TV competition Duets as a coach in 2012.

Long before earning a famous reputation as a multiple Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter, John Legend was born John Roger Stephens on December 28, 1978, in Springfield, Ohio. A child prodigy, Legend's grandmother taught him how to play the piano, and he grew up singing in the church choir. He went on to attend the University of Pennsylvania, where he directed a coed a cappella group. After graduation, he switched gears and worked for Boston Consulting Group but continued to perform in nightclubs in New York City.

Legend became an in-demand session musician and songwriter, working with such artists as Alicia Keys, Twista and Janet Jackson. He was soon introduced to up-and-coming hip-hop artist Kanye West, and the two musicians collaborated on one another's demos.

Legend's debut album, 2004's Get Lifted, went platinum thanks in part to the hit single "Ordinary People," a song that he originally penned for the Black Eyed Peas. He went home with three Grammy Awards for Get Lifted: for best R&B album, best R&B male vocal performance and best new artist. Legend's sophomore effort, Once Again, was released in 2006.

Legend's musical talent has made him a mainstream star. In 2006, he performed at Super Bowl XL in Detroit, the NBA All-Star Game, and the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in Pittsburgh. He soon released several new albums, including Evolver (2008). Evolver featured "Green Light," a collaboration with André 3000. This song proved to be a modest hit, and the album itself reached the top of the R&B/hip-hop charts. That same year, Legend stepped in front of the cameras. He had a supporting role in the 2008 comedy Soul Men, starring Bernie Mac and Samuel L. Jackson.

In 2010, Legend released Wake Up!, which he recorded with the Roots. The album received raves from music critics and tackled tunes made famous by the likes of Marvin Gaye and Nina Simone. The Curtis Mayfield-penned "Hard Times" was one of the record's main singles; another hit, "Shine," Legend's own composition, earned him a Grammy Award. He and the Roots also won a Grammy for best R&B album in 2011.

Legend tried his hand at reality television with the singing competition Duets during the summer of 2012. He worked alongside Kelly Clarkson, Robin Thicke and Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland. The musical stars coached and performed with the contestants on the show. Later that year, Legend contributed a new track to Quentin Tarantino's 2012 film Django Unchained.

Outside of music, Legend is involved in numerous social and charitable causes. He is a supporter of the Harlem Village Academies, a New York City organization that runs several charter schools. Legend serves as a vice chairman on the HVA board. He explained to Black Enterprise magazine why education is such an important issue to him. "I come from a city where 40 percent to 50 percent of our kids drop out of high school. I did well in high school and then went to an Ivy League school, but I was the exception. We need to do more to make sure every kid has a quality education."

Source: Biography.com http://www.biography.com/people/john-legend-201302#recent-projects

Johnny Gill on the Art of Soul
Category: The Art of Soul
Tags: johnny gill art soul word life production new quality entertainment featured blog

Johnny Gill is an American R&B musician, songwriter and singer best known as a successful solo recording artist and as lead singer of platinum-selling boy band New Edition.

Born in Washington, D.C., on May 22, 1966, Johnny Gill began his career singing gospel in his father's church, as part of the family gospel group, Wings of Faith. When a family friend helped him get a record deal at age 16, he began sharing his mature, distinctive voice with fans of R&B and pop music. He went on to become lead singer of the popular boy band New Edition, and eventually released a hit solo album, Johnny Gill, in 1990. He has continued making hits, at one point joining superstar singers Keith Sweat and the late Gerald Levert to form the R&B supergroup LSG.

Born in Washington, D.C., on May 22, 1966, Johnny Gill Jr. was part of a musical family. His father was a minister, and beginning at the age of 5, Gill sang in his family's gospel group, Wings of Faith, composed of him and his brothers Bobby, Jeff and Randy. Even at a young age, Gill stood out because of his mature voice, sounding wise beyond his years.

A childhood friend, singer Stacy Lattisaw, helped Gill to record a demo, which got him a record deal in 1983, at age 16. His first self-titled album garnered some attention, but he really began to get national attention when he next made a duo album with Lattisaw. Their hit single, "Perfect Combination," brought a new level of awareness to the young singers.

Johnny Gill's fame took another leap when, in 1987, he became lead singer for New Edition, a popular 1980s boy band that already had a string of hits. Gill's deep, distinctive voice helped the group forge a more mature sound, which proved timely as the group members were nearing their twenties and were no longer boys. The group's 1987 album, Heart Break, featured a more adult sound and included the hit singles "Can You Stand the Rain" (which went to No. 1 on the R&B charts), "N.E. Heartbreak" and "Boys to Men."

Signing with Motown Records as a solo artist, Gill reached his full potential when his second self-titled album was released in 1990. The album was the first to be produced by the top two R&B producing duos of that time: L.A. Reid and Babyface, and Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. The album blasted onto the music scene, reaching No. 1 on Billboard's Top 100 R&B Albums (and the Top 10 on the Pop Albums chart). Johnny Gill also contained four singles that powered onto the R&B and Pop Singles charts: "My, My, My," a signature Gill ballad that reached No. 1 on the R&B chart and the Top 10 on the Pop chart; "Wrap My Body Tight"; "Fairweather Friend" and "Rub You the Right Way."

Gill has never been married, but is the father of a son, Isiah Gill, who was born in 2006. Isiah's mother is a Washington, D.C., journalist. Gill's sexuality has often been a source of speculation; he has often been linked to superstar comedic actor Eddie Murphy.

Source: Biography.com

 

Ultimate Classic Rock - Elton John Tags: ultimate rock classic elton john word life production new qulaity entertainment feature blog

For most of the Seventies, Elton John and lyricist Bernie Taupin were a virtual hit factory, churning out 25 Top Forty singles, 16 Top Ten, and six Number One hits. In the Eighties their fortunes declined only slightly. To date, they have achieved more than four dozen Top Forty hits and become one of the most successful songwriting teams in pop history.

John's rich tenor and gospel-chorded piano, boosted by aggressive string arrangements, established a musical formula, while he reveled in an extravagant public image. At the start of the Nineties John confessed the personal costs of that extravagance—drug abuse, depression, bulimia—and revealed as well his impressive struggles to regain control. Since the late Eighties, he has been deeply involved in the fight against AIDS. And while his critical stature has varied over the years, his melodic gifts have proved undeniable. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. In 1998, he became Sir Elton, after Queen Elizabeth dubbed him a knight.

As Reginald Dwight, John won a piano scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music at age 11. Six years later he left school for show business. By day, he ran errands for a music publishing company; he divided evenings between a group, Bluesology, and solo gigs at a London hotel bar. Bluesology was then working as a backup band for visiting American soul singers such as Major Lance and Patti LaBelle and the Blue Belles. In 1966, British R&B singer Long John Baldry hired Bluesology as his band (In 1971 John co-produced an album of Baldry's).

Responding to an ad in a music trade weekly, Dwight auditioned for Liberty Records with his hotel repertoire. The scouts liked his performance but not his material. (Liberty wasn't his only audition; he was also rejected by King Crimson and Gentle Giant). Lyricist Bernie Taupin (born May 22, 1950, Sleaford, England) had also replied to the Liberty ad, and one of the scouts gave Dwight a stack of Taupin lyrics. Six months later the two met. By then, Dwight was calling himself Elton John, after John Baldry and Bluesology saxophonist Elton Dean. (Some years later he made Elton Hercules John his legal name; Hercules was a childhood nickname.) John and Taupin took their songs to music publisher Dick James, who hired them as house writers for £10 (about $25) a week, and whose Dick James Music owned all John-Taupin compositions until 1975.

Taupin would write lyrics, sometimes a song an hour, and deliver a bundle to John every few weeks. Without changing a word, and only rarely consulting Taupin, John would fit tunes to the phrases. Arrangements were left to studio producers. For two years they wrote easy-listening tunes for James to peddle to singers; on the side, John recorded current hits for budget labels like Music for Pleasure and Marble Arch.

On the advice of another music publisher, Steve Brown, John and Taupin started writing rockier songs for John to record. The first was the single "I've Been Loving You" (1968), produced by former Bluesology guitarist Caleb Quaye. In 1969, with Quaye, drummer Roger Pope, and bassist Tony Murray, John recorded another single, "Lady Samantha," and an album, Empty Sky. The records didn't sell, and John and Taupin enlisted Gus Dudgeon to produce a followup with Paul Buckmaster as arranger. (Brown continued to advise John until 1976; Dudgeon produced his records through Blue Moves and sporadically in the mid-Eighties.) Elton John established the formula for subsequent albums: gospel-chorded rockers and poignant ballads.

Uni (later MCA) released Elton John (withholding Empty Sky until 1975), and John made his historical American debut at the Troubadour in L.A. in August 1970, backed by ex-Spencer Davis Group drummer Nigel Olsson and bassist Dee Murray. (Murray would play with John off and on until his death in 1992 from a stroke suffered during treatment for skin cancer.) Kicking over his piano bench Jerry Lee Lewis-style and performing handstands on the keyboards, John left the critics raving. "Your Song" (Number 8, 1970) carried the album to the American Top 10. Tumbleweed Connection, with extensive FM airplay, sold even faster and reached Number Five.

By the middle of 1971, two more albums had been released: a live set taped from a WPLJ-FM New York radio broadcast on November 17, 1970, and the soundtrack to the film Friends, written three years before. Despite John's public repudiation of it, Friends went gold. Elton John was the first act since the Beatles to have four albums in the American Top 10 simultaneously. Madman Across the Water (Number 8) came out in October 1971, boasting hits "Levon" (Number 24) and "Tiny Dancer" (Number 41) and before year's end, a Bernie Taupin recitation-and-music album, Taupin, was on the market.

Honky Ch âteau (1972), with Top-Tens "Rocket Man" (Number Six) and "Honkey Cat" (Number Eight), was the first album credited to the Elton John group: John, Olsson, Murray, and guitarist Davey Johnstone. "Crocodile Rock," from 1973's Don't Shoot Me, I'm Only The Piano Player, was his first Number One; "Daniel" and "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," from the 1973 LP of the same name, reached Number Two.

Then came the tidal wave: "Bennie and the Jets" (Number One), "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" (Number Two), "The @!$%# Is Back" (Number Four), a cover of Lennon-McCartney's "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" (Number One), "Philadelphia Freedom" (Number One), "Someone Saved My Lifed Tonight" (Number 4), and "Island Girl" (Number One). Honky Ch âteau was the first of seven Number One albums, the most successful being Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, which held the Number One spot for eight weeks in late 1973, and a 1974 greatest-hits compilation that held fast at Number One for 10 weeks.

In 1973 John formed Rocket, his own MCA-distributed label and signed acts—notably Neil Sedaka and Kiki Dee, with whom he recorded "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" (Number One, 1976)— in which he took personal interest. Instead of releasing his own records on Rocket, he opted for $8 million offered by MCA. When the contract was signed in 1974, MCA reportedly took out a $25-million insurance policy on John's life.

That same year, Elton John joined John Lennon in the studio on Lennon's "Whatever Gets You Thru the Night," then recorded "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" with Dr. Winston O'Boogie (Lennon) on guitar. Dr. O'Boogie joined Elton John at Madison Square Garden, Thanksgiving Day 1974, to sing both tunes plus "I Saw Her Standing There." It was Lennon's last appearance on any stage and came out on an EP released after his death.

In the mid-Seventies John's concerts filled arenas and stadiums worldwide. He was the hottest act in rock and roll. And his extravagances, including a $40,000 collection of custom-designed and determinedly ridiculous eyeglasses and an array of equally outrageous stagewear seemed positively charming.

After Captain Fantastic (1975), the first album ever to enter the charts at Number One, John overhauled his band: Johnstone and Ray Cooper were retained, Quaye and Roger Pope removed, and the new bassist was Kenny Passarelli (formerly of Joe Walsh's Barnstorm). James Newton-Howard joined to arrange in the studio and to play keyboards. John introduced the lineup before a crow of 75,000 in London's Wembley Stadium in the summer of 1975, then recorded Rock of the Westies. Also that year, John appeared as the Pinball Wizard in the Ken Russell film of the Who's Tommy. But John's frenetic recording pace had slowed markedly, and he performed less often. A live album, Here and There, had been recorded in 1974. John's biggest hit in 1976 was the Number One Kiki Dee duet. A single from the downbeat Blue Moves (Number Three, 1976), "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word," reached Number Six.

In November 1977, John announced he was retiring from performing. After publishing a book of his poems—The One Who Writes the Words for Elton John— in 1976, Taupin began collaborating with others. John secluded himself in any of his three mansions, appearing publicly only to cheer the Watford Football Club, an English soccer team that he later bought. Some speculated that John's retreat from stardom was prompted by adverse reaction to his 1976 admission in Rolling Stone of his bisexuality.

A Single Man employed a new lyricist, Gary Osborne, but featured no Top 20 singles. In 1979, accompanied by Ray Cooper, John became the first Western pop star to tour the Soviet Union, then mounted a two-man comeback tour of the U.S. in small halls. John returned to the singles chart with "Mama Can't Buy You Love" (Number Nine, 1979), a song from an EP recorded in 1977 with Philadelphia soul producer Thom Bell. A new album, Victim of Love, failed to sustain the rally, and by 1980, John and Taupin reunited to write songs for 21 at 33 and The Fox. (Taupin put out a solo album, He Who Rides the Tiger.) A single, "Little Jeannie," reached Number Three.

An estimated 400,000 fans turned out for a free concert in New York's Central Park in August, later broadcast on HBO. Olsson and Murray were back in the band, and John had just signed a new recording contract. His second Geffen LP—Jump Up! —contained "Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny)," his tribute to John Lennon, which he performed at his sold-out Madison Square Garden show in August 1982. He was joined on stage by Yoko Ono and Sean Ono Lennon, Elton John's godchild.

In 1983, with a version of "I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues" (Number Four), featuring Stevie Wonder on harmonica, Elton had his biggest since 1980—and while he wouldn't match his Seventies success, he would continue to place in the Top Ten throughout the Eighties— "Sad Songs (Say So Much)" (Number Five, 1984), "Nikita" (Number Seven, 1986), an orchestral version of "Candle in the Wind" (Number Six, 1987), and "I Don't Wanna Go On With You Like That" (Number Two, 1988). His highest-charting single was a collaboration with Dionne Warwick, Gladys Knight, and Stevie Wonder on "That's What Friends Are For" (Number One, 1985). Credited to Dionne and Friends, the song raised funds for AIDS research. His albums continued to sell, but of the six released in the latter half of the Eighties, only Reg Strikes Back (Number 16, 1988) places in the Top 20.

The Eighties were years of personal upheaval for John. In 1984, he surprised many by marrying studio engineer Renate Blauel. While the marriage lasted four years, John later maintained that he had realized that he was gay before he married. In 1986 he lost his voice while touring Australia and shortly thereafter underwent throat surgery. John continued recording prolifically, but years of cocaine and alcohol abuse, initiated in earnest around the time of Rock of the Westies' 1975 release, were beginning to take their toll.

In 1988 he performed five sold-out shows at New York's Madison Square Garden, his final concert—his 26th—breaking the Grateful Dead's career record of 25 sold-out Garden appearances. (John still holds the record; he played his 60th show at MSG on his 60th birthday in 2007.) But 1988 also marked the end of an era: 2,000 items of John's memorabilia were auctioned off at Sotheby's in London, netting over $20 million, as John bade symbolic farewell to his excessive, theatrical persona. (Among the items withheld from the auction were the tens of thousands of records John had been carefully collecting and cataloguing through his life.) In later interviews, he deemed 1989 the worst period of his life, comparing his mental and physical deterioration to Elvis Presley's last years.

Around that time, he was deeply affected by the plight of Ryan White, an Indiana teenager with AIDS. Along with Michael Jackson, John befriended and supported the boy and his family until White's death in 1990. Confronted by his then-lover, John checked into a Chicago hospital in 1990 to combat his drug abuse, alcoholism, and bulimia. In recovery, he lost weight and underwent hair replacement, and subsequently took up residence in Atlanta, Georgia.

In 1992, he established the Elton John AIDS Foundation, intending to direct 90 percent of the funds it raised to direct care, 10 percent to AIDS prevention education. He also announced his intention to donate all future royalties from sales of his singles (beginning with "The One") in the U.S. and U.K. to AIDS research. That year, he released the Number Eight album The One, his highest-charting release since 1976's Blue Moves, and John and Taupin signed a music publishing deal with Warner/Chappell Music—an estimated $39-million, 12-year agreement—that would give them the largest cash advance in music publishing history.

In 1992, at the Freddie Mercury Memorial and AIDS Benefit concert at Wembley Stadium, John duetted with Axl Rose on Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody, " a reconciling gesture, given Rose's previously homophobic reputation. He also released Duets, a collaboration with 15 artists ranging from Tammy Wynette to RuPaul. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.

John collaborated with Tim Rice on music for the animated film The Lion King. The soundtrack featured "Can You Feel the Love Tonight," an Academy Award-winner for Best Original Song and a Grammy-winner for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance. At the Academy Awards ceremonies, John acknowledge his domestic partner, Canadian filmmaker David Furnish. In 1995 John released Made in England (Number One3, 1995), which featured the hit single "Believe" (Number 13, 1995).

The year 1997 was significant for John personally and professionally. He lost two close friends, designer Gianni Versace and Princess Diana. Upon Diana's death, Bernie Taupin reworked the lyrics of "Candle in the Wind," a song originally written about Marilyn Monroe in 1973. The resulting tribute, "Candle in the Wind 1997," easily became the all-time highest-certified single, with U.S. sales of 11 million in the first month (all proceeds were donated to the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund). John's accomplishment is particularly stunning when matched against his previous track record. "Candle," his 16th certified single, has outsold all of his other gold and platinum singles combined. The song is not on his 1997 album The Big Picture, which was released shortly after the tribute single.

Also in 1997, vestiges of the flamboyant Elton resurfaced as he threw a 50th birthday party, costumed as Louis XIV, for 500 friends (the outfit cost more than $80,000). In 1999, John had a pacemaker installed to overcome a minor heart problem. Also that year, he collaborated again with Tim Rice, this time on a Broadway musical version of Verdi's opera Aida. The pair also collaborated on a DreamWorks animated feature, The Road to El Dorado.

The 2000s witnessed something of an Elton renaissance. With 2001's Songs From the West Coast he sat down at the piano and made an old-fashion Elton John album, and the result was his best platter since Rock of the Westies. At the 2001 Grammy Awards show, John duetted with Eminem on the controversial rapper's "Stan." Gay-rights activists and organizations criticized John for embracing (literally and figuratively) Eminem, as he had Axl Rose years before, but he and the rapper stayed friends, with the Elton supporting Eminem went through his own drug problems.

Peachtree Road played like a sequel to West Coast, with Elton and Taupin turning in some of their most personal songs ever, as well as ballads like "They Call Her the Cat," about a post-op transsexual woman. Billed as the official followup to Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy, The Captain and the Kid was an autobiographical concept album about Elton and Taupin's lives since the Seventies, rocking out with red-blooded fervor on hot ones like "Just Like Noah's Ark."

In 2008, John announced that he would tour again with Billy John, as he had several times before dating back to 1994. The tour began in March, 2009, with the pricey tickets moving briskly, and was expected to run for at least two years.

Portions of this biography appeared in The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll (Simon & Schuster, 2001). Evan Serpick contributed to this story.

Source: RollingStone

 

A moment in history with - Dr. Ralph Johnson Bunche
Category: Black Men Rock!
Tags: dr ralph johnson bunche moment history black men rock word life production new quality

Ralph Johnson Bunche (August 7, 1904-1971) was born in Detroit, Michigan. His father, Fred Bunche, was a barber in a shop having a clientele of whites only; his mother, Olive (Johnson) Bunche, was an amateur musician; his grandmother, «Nana» Johnson, who lived with the family, had been born into slavery. When Bunche was ten years old, the family moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, in the hope that the poor health of his parents would improve in the dry climate. Both, however, died two years later. His grandmother, an indomitable woman who appeared Caucasian «on the outside» but was «all black fervor inside»1, took Ralph and his two sisters to live in Los Angeles. Here Ralph contributed to the family's hard pressed finances by selling newspapers, serving as house boy for a movie actor, working for a carpet-laying firm, and doing what odd jobs he could find.

His intellectual brilliance appeared early. He won a prize in history and another in English upon completion of his elementary school work and was the valedictorian of his graduating class at Jefferson High School in Los Angeles, where he had been a debater and all-around athlete who competed in football, basketball, baseball, and track. At the University of California at Los Angeles he supported himself with an athletic scholarship, which paid for his collegiate expenses, and with a janitorial job, which paid for his personal expenses. He played varsity basketball on championship teams, was active in debate and campus journalism, and was graduated in 1927, summa cum laude, valedictorian of his class, with a major in international relations.

With a scholarship granted by Harvard University and a fund of a thousand dollars raised by the black community of Los Angeles, Bunche began his graduate studies in political science. He completed his master's degree in 1928 and for the next six years alternated between teaching at Howard University and working toward the doctorate at Harvard. The Rosenwald Fellowship, which he held in 1932-1933, enabled him to conduct research in Africa for a dissertation comparing French rule in Togoland and Dahomey. He completed his dissertation in 1934 with such distinction that he was awarded the Toppan Prize for outstanding research in social studies. From 1936 to 1938, on a Social Science Research Council fellowship, he did postdoctoral research in anthropology at Northwestern University, the London School of Economics, and Capetown University in South Africa.

Throughout his career, Bunche has maintained strong ties with education. He chaired the Department of Political Science at Howard University from 1928 until 1950; taught at Harvard University from 1950 to 1952; served as a member of the New York City Board of Education (1958-1964), as a member of the Board of Overseers of Harvard University (1960-1965), as a member of the Board of the Institute of International Education, and as a trustee of Oberlin College, Lincoln University, and New Lincoln School.

Bunche has always been active in the civil rights movement. At Howard University he was considered by some as a young radical intellectual who criticized both America's social system and the established Negro organizations, but generally he is thought of as a moderate. From his experience as co-director of the Institute of Race Relations at Swarthmore College in 1936, added to his firsthand research performed earlier, he wrote A World View of Race (1936). He participated in the Carnegie Corporation's well-known survey of the Negro in America, under the direction of the Swedish sociologist, Gunnar Myrdal, which resulted in the publication of Myrdal's An American Dilemma (1944). He was a member of the «Black Cabinet» consulted on minority problems by Roosevelt's administration; declined President Truman's offer of the position of assistant secretary of state because of the segregated housing conditions in Washington, D. C.; helped to lead the civil rights march organized by Martin Luther King, Jr., in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1965; supported the action programs of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and of the Urban League. Bunche has not himself formed organizations, nor has he aspired to positions of administrative leadership in existing civil rights organizations. Rather, he has exerted his influence personally in speeches and publications, especially during the twenty-year period from 1945 to 1965. His message has been clear: Racial prejudice is an unreasoned phenomenon without scientific basis in biology or anthropology; «segregation and democracy are incompatible»; blacks should maintain the struggle for equal rights while accepting the responsibilities that come with freedom; whites must demonstrate that «democracy is color-blind»2.

Ralph Bunche's enduring fame arises from his service to the U. S. government and to the UN. An adviser to the Department of State and to the military on Africa and colonial areas of strategic military importance during World War II, Bunche moved from his first position as an analyst in the Office of Strategic Services to the desk of acting chief of the Division of Dependent Area Affairs in the State Department. He also discharged various responsibilities in connection with international conferences of the Institute of Pacific Relations, the UN, the International Labor Organization, and the Anglo-American Caribbean Commission.

In 1946, UN Secretary-General Trygve Lie «borrowed» Bunche from the State Department and placed him in charge of the Department of Trusteeship of the UN to handle problems of the world's peoples who had not yet attained self-government. He has been associated with the UN ever since.

From June of 1947 to August of 1949, Bunche worked on the most important assignment of his career - the confrontation between Arabs and Jews in Palestine. He was first appointed as assistant to the UN Special Committee on Palestine, then as principal secretary of the UN Palestine Commission, which was charged with carrying out the partition approved by the UN General Assembly. In early 1948 when this plan was dropped and fighting between Arabs and Israelis became especially severe, the UN appointed Count Folke Bernadotte as mediator and Ralph Bunche as his chief aide. Four months later, on September 17, 1948, Count Bernadotte was assassinated, and Bunche was named acting UN mediator on Palestine. After eleven months of virtually ceaseless negotiating, Bunche obtained signatures on armistice agreements between Israel and the Arab States.

Bunche returned home to a hero's welcome. New York gave him a «ticker tape» parade up Broadway; Los Angeles declared a «Ralph Bunche Day ». He was besieged with requests to lecture, was awarded the Spingarn Prize by the NAACP in 1949, was given over thirty honorary degrees in the next three years, and the Nobel Peace Prize for 1950.

Bunche still works for the UN. From 1955 to 1967, he served as undersecretary for Special Political Affairs and since 1968 has been undersecretary-general. During these years he has taken on many special assignments. When war erupted in the Congo in 1960, Dag Hammarskjöld, then secretary-general of the UN, appointed him as his special representative to oversee the UN commitments there. He has shouldered analogous duties in Cyprus, Kashmir, and Yemen.

Replying to an interviewer on the UN's intervention in international crises, Bunche remarked that the «United Nations has had the courage that the League of Nations lacked - to step in and tackle the buzz saw»3. Ralph Bunche has supplied a part of that courage.4

 Selected Bibliography

Bennett, Lerone, Jr., Before the Mayflower: A History of Black America. 4th ed. Chicago, Johnson Publishing Co., 1969.

Bunche, Ralph J., Extended Memorandum on the Programs, Ideologies, Tactics and Achievements of Negro Betterment and Interracial Organizations. A research memorandum for use in the preparation of Gunnar Myrdal's An American Dilemma. Original typescript (1940) deposited in New York Public Library; microfilm copies made in 1968 available in the libraries of the Universities of Illinois, Iowa, and California at Berkeley.

Bunche, Ralph J., French Administration in Togoland and Dahomey. Ph.D.dissertation. Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Graduate School, 1934.

Bunche, Ralph J., «Human Relations and World Peace», in Gustavus Adolphus College Bulletin, 17 (1950). An address given at Gustavus Adolphus College (St. Peter, Minn.) Commencement and Bernadotte Memorial Dedication, June 4, 1950.

Bunche, Ralph J., «My Most Unforgettable Character», Reader's Digest, 95 (September, 1969) 45 - 49.

Bunche, Ralph J., Native Morale in The Netherlands East Indies. Washington, D.C., U.S. Department of State for the Library of Congress, 1941.

Bunche, Ralph J., «Peace and Human Progress», in Symposium on World Cooperation and Social Progress. New York, League for Industrial Democracy, 1951.

Bunche, Ralph J., «Peace and the United Nations», the Montague Burton Lecture on International Relations. Leeds, England, University of Leeds, 1952.

Bunche, Ralph J., «United Nations Intervention in Palestine», in Colgate Lectures in Human Relations, 1949. Hamilton, N.Y., Colgate University, 1949.

Bunche, Ralph J., «What America Means to Me», as told to Irwin Ross. The American Magazine, 149 (February, 1950) 19, 122-126. Reprinted in Negro Digest (September, 1950).

Bunche, Ralph J., A World View of Race. Washington, D.C., Associates in Negro Folk Education, 1936. Reissued, Port Washington, N.Y., Kennikat Press, 1968.

Flynn, James J., «Ralph Johnson Bunche: Statesman», in Negroes of Achievement in Modern America. New York, Dodd, Mead, 1970.

Hughes, Langston, «Ralph Bunche: Statesman and Political Scientist», in Famous American Negroes. New York, Dodd, Mead, 1954.

Italiaander, Rolf, Die Friedensmacher: Drei Neger erhielten den Friedens-Nobelpreis. Kassel, W. Germany, Oncken, 1965. Brief biographies of Bunche, King, and Luthuli.

Kugelmass, J. Alvin, Ralph J. Bunche: Fighter for Peace. New York, Julian Messner, 1952.

Myrdal, Gunnar, An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy. New York, Harper, 1944.

Phifer, Gregg, «Ralph Bunche: Negro Spokesman», in American Public Address, ed. by Loren Reid. Columbia, Mo., University of Missouri Press, 1961.


1. Bunche pays tribute to this «matriarch» of the family in an autobiographical fragment in Reader's Digest, «My Most Unforgettable Character».

2. See Gregg Phifer, «Ralph Bunche: Negro Spokesman», passim.

3. «Crisis», in The New Yorker, 43 (July 29, 1967) 23.

4. Suffering from heart disease and diabetes, Mr. Bunche resigned as UN undersecretary-general on October 1, 1971. He died on December 9, 1971.

From Nobel Lectures, Peace 1926-1950, Editor Frederick W. Haberman, Elsevier Publishing Company, Amsterdam, 1972

This autobiography/biography was written at the time of the award and first published in the book series Les Prix Nobel. It was later edited and republished in Nobel Lectures. To cite this document, always state the source as shown above.

 

Ralph Bunche died on December 9, 1971.

 

Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 1950

Source: Nobleprize.org

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