An eager and enthusiastic crowd packed the Luckman Theatre Monday night for the premier of a documentary film that explores the life and legacy of Tom Bradley, who served an unprecedented 20 years as mayor of Los Angeles.
Among those who attended the screening of Bridging the Divide: Tom Bradley and the Politics of Race, were current and former elected officials.
Cal State L.A. President William A. Covino welcomed the audience, saying that Bradley’s legacy of inclusion is as relevant today as it was when he won his first mayoral election more than four decades ago.
“In this city of rich diversity, Tom Bradley created alliances and built coalitions,” Covino told the audience.
Bradley’s career “deeply shaped our view of what is possible in bridging the divides that separate us,” he added.
Narrated by Emmy® Award-winning actress Alfre Woodard, the film follows Bradley’s rise from the rural Texas town where he was born, to Los Angeles where he became an accomplished athlete at UCLA.
Bradley began his professional career as a Los Angeles police officer and lawyer. In 1963 he became the first African American to be elected to the Los Angeles City Council. He later became the first African American mayor of a major American city without a black majority.
“He overcame immense obstacles to not only win election in an overwhelmingly white city, but to challenge and eventually to overcome the resistance of the police department to civilian oversight,” said Raphael Sonenshein, executive director of the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at Cal State L.A. and author of a book about Bradley.
“Tom Bradley transformed Los Angeles from a city with a small-town, narrow mindset into a global metropolis that recognized the value of diversity,” Sonenshein added.
Bradley’s style of interracial coalition politics created a legacy that paved the way for the election of minority candidates nationwide, and 35 years later to the election of Barack Obama as President.
The screening was presented by the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at Cal State L.A., in partnership with Cal State Dominguez Hills, UCLA, and PBS SoCal. The Mervyn M. Dymally African American Political and Economic Institute is a lead sponsor of this event.
After the movie, a panel discussed Bradley’s career and his impact on today’s politics. Warren Olney, host of 89.9 KCRW’s Which Way, L.A.? moderated the panel, which included Lorraine Bradley, the eldest daughter of Tom Bradley; U.S. Rep. Judy Chu (D-Monterey Park); Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas; former county supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, and labor leader Maria Elena Durazo of Unite Here, the nationwide union for restaurant, hospitality and casino workers.
The filmmakers, Alison Sotomayor and Lyn Goldfarb, also addressed the audience and shared their thoughts about Bradley and the importance of his legacy.
Photos: Above, people packed the Luckman Theatre for the premier of a new Tom Bradley movie. Below, from left to right: Warren Olney, host of 89.9 KCRW’s Which Way, L.A.? moderated a panel, which included Lorraine Bradley, the eldest daughter of Tom Bradley; former Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky; Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas; U.S. Rep. Judy Chu (D-Monterey Park); and labor leader Maria Elena Durazo of Unite Here, the nationwide union for restaurant, hospitality and casino workers. (Credit: J. Emilio Flores/Cal State L.A.)
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