Remembering the Legacy
of Mayor Tom Bradley

A new documentary, Bridging the Divide: Tom Bradley and the Politics of Race, celebrates the life and legacy of Los Angeles’ first and only African-American mayor on what would have been his 100th birthday.

All photos by Aurelia Ventura/Board of Supervisors

Remarks by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas during a recent screening of the film.

“Thank you to the March on Washington Film Festival, The California Endowment, and The California Wellness Foundation for hosting tonight’s event.

“Mayor Tom Bradley’s impact on Los Angeles is immeasurable. It is a privilege to reflect on these accomplishments in commemoration of his 100th birthday, and in the presence of some of his family, friends and colleagues.

Mayor Tom Bradley

“Tom Bradley has had a profound impact on my career as a public servant and elected official, from his support of my work with Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and my candidacy to City Council, and his influence on the rest of my political career.

“He was not only the first and only African American mayor in Los Angeles, but he was also this city’s longest standing mayor. His accomplishments over his five terms as mayor are far too long to list, but three things stand out that cannot go unmentioned.

“First was Mayor Bradley’s work ethic and integrity. His work ethic was second to none. He arrived at City Hall before everyone else, and left after everyone else. He handled the job with humility and honor, providing an extraordinary example of leadership in the modern era.

“Second was his commitment to celebrating, recognizing and investing in the diversity of Los Angeles. Mayor Bradley understood that the great diversity in a city like Los Angeles was an asset, whether around religion, gender, race and ethnicity, nationality, class or profession.

The late mayor’s daughter, Lorraine Bradley

“His staff and commission appointments reflected this. In many ways, he opened up City Hall to those who had never before felt that government could truly represent and look like them. He built diverse coalitions that brought people together for the first time around a shared vision of change. He gave coalition politics a new meaning.

“Third, Mayor Bradley helped transform Los Angeles into a world-class metropolis. His contributions to the development of downtown L.A. are enormous, as was his work around bringing the Olympics to this city.

“I believe his leadership on building out L.A.’s light rail transportation system was particularly transformative in Los Angeles. The Crenshaw/LAX Line is in no small way an example of the legacy of Tom Bradley. Due to his efforts, two years ago, we dedicated the Expo/La Brea station in honor of his wife, Ethel Bradley. Together they laid the foundation for the light rail system we are benefiting from today.

“In closing, I want to thank all the partners in the room, who give me confidence that we will continue to honor Mayor Bradley’s legacy, today and moving forward.”

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas with event panelists, including journalist Warren Olney, USC Professor Manuel Pastor, and the late Mayor Tom Bradley’s daughter, Lorraine Bradley.