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New Graduates Enter "Substantially Brighter" World, UN's Ralph Bunche Says at 117th Commencement

June 10, 1956

98454June 10, 1956, Greencastle, Ind. — "Prospects for world peace and the avoidance of nuclear war appear substantially brighter than they have been," Ralph J. Bunche, undersecretary of the United Nations and 1950 Nobel Peace Prize winner, told DePauw University's Class of 1956 today.  Dr. Bunche provided the primary address at DePauw's 117th annual commencement.  More than 350 seniors and graduate students were awarded diplomas at the twilight ceremony held in Blackstock Stadium.

"The atom is being harnessed for peace; colonialism is everywhere coming to an end and a better life for people around the globe begins to assume concrete form," Bunche told the assembled crowd.

An Indianapolis Star summary notes, "He warned that the future of the world would be bleak if there were to be a third world war, the indescribable nuclear war, but added that 'world 98457nuclear war is in no sense inevitable.' "

Bunche told the graduates and their families, as well as the faculty members assembled at DePauw's football stadium, "I personally find it inconceivable that the leaders of any nation would be so foolhardy as to ignite the fuse of atomic war." (at right: Dr. Bunche and President Humbert compare notes)

He sees a new era emerging in which the system of colonialism will become insignificant, creating a freer and more secure world.

The UN official, one of America's top black leaders, also believes much progress is being made in the area of race relations.  While much still needs to be done to free people from "the humiliation, disability and degradation of racial discrimination," Bunche sees change, and "the progress has been gratifying."

DePauw President Russell J. Humbert told the new graduates, "We counsel you to live beyond your dreams where, in humility, you will accept new and better ideas and ideals."  The students' four years at DePauw have given them intangible talents 98455"which lie hidden in your soul, making you a restless, curious person.  We have confidence in your ability to develop spiritually and mentally, and we have high hopes for the realization of man's true social betterment."

The University awarded honorary degrees today to: Eugene Beesley, president of Eli Lilly; U.S. Representative Ralph Gwinn of New York; Robert C. McCutchan, former dean of the DePauw School of Music; William W. Sweet, former head of DePauw's history department; Worth Tippy, University archivist; the Rev. Leslie Finch, Methodist district superintendent; and Rev. Henry White, an Indianapolis pastor.

Learn more about Dr. Bunche in this previous article.

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