The Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies, founded in 1969 as the Center for Afro-American Studies (CAAS), was renamed after Nobel Prize winner, scholar, activist, and UCLA alumnus Ralph J. Bunche in 2003, in commemoration of the centenary of his birth.
The Bunche Center is the result of the struggle by black students at UCLA to have their history and culture recognized and studied. While the fight to have African American Studies acknowledged as a legitimate field of study was taking place all over America during the 1960s, it took on special significance at UCLA when two Black Panthers were killed at Campbell Hall in January 1969 after a clash over who would lead the center.
Alprentice “Bunchy” Carter and John Huggins, leaders in the Los Angeles chapter of the Black Panther Party, were shot and killed. Two brothers, who were members of the rival Black power group, the US Organization, were convicted for the murders, but escaped from prison in 1974. One of the brothers surrendered to authorities in South America many years later.
UCLA students had written a proposal for the center in 1968 and 1969 that documented the need for Black Americans to be educated about their history and culture; to lessen their vulnerability to the “corrosive effects of American racism” and to give them the tools required to “understand and control the forces and attitudes presently shaping their lives.”
The Bunche Center was established as an Organized Research Unit (ORU), with the mission to develop and strengthen African American Studies.
The Center supports research that (1) expands the knowledge of the history, lifestyles, and socio-cultural systems of people of African descent and (2) investigates problems that have bearing on the psychological, social, and economic well being of persons of African descent. Research sponsored and conducted by the Bunche Center is multidisciplinary in scope and spans the humanities, social sciences, fine arts, and several professional schools.
The Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies, founded in 1969 as the Center for Afro-American Studies (CAAS), was renamed after Nobel Prize winner, scholar, activist, and UCLA alumnus Ralph J. Bunche in 2003, in commemoration of the…