Mixer: Bradley legacy one of coalition and change

friday mixer bannerTom Bradley was Barack Obama before “Yes We Can” and predominantly white Los Angeles was forbearer to a nation that would eventually elect its first black leader.

Bradley moved west with his family, early in his life, settling in LA. After public school, he attended UCLA and later went to work in the Los Angeles Police Department, promoted as far as Lieutenant.

He won election to the City Council, with two other African-Americans in the early 1960s, while civil strife was happening in other cities across the country.

In 1969, he failed to win his first mayoral election, when Sam Yorte won a third term.  But, tenacious to his political and civic core, Bradley pushed ahead, looking at the next mayor’s race four years later. In that time, he cultivated a broad coalition of Jews, Latinos, Asian-Americans and other liberal white voters.

They propelled him to a landslide victory over Yorte, who’d lost public favor.

A coalition that stuck for a while, only to erode later in his political life.

A new documentary about Bradley chronicles his life, as son of Texas sharecroppers and grandson to slaves, to policeman and politician.

In those years: a lot of change. From a run for governor to repetitive run-ins with former LAPD Chief Darryl Gates.

Alison Sotomayor co-produced the documentary called “Bridging the Divide: Tom Bradley and the Politics of Race.” She also co-established the non-profit audio-visual media project called Our L.A.

Lorraine Bradley is Bradley’s oldest daughter. She’s a retired P.E. teacher and was featured in the documentary as well.

And Sherry Bebitch Jeffe is professor of public policy at USC. She’s served as political analyst for numerous media outlets and has studied and taught extensively about Bradley.

All three joined us for this week’s Mixer.

By the way, the documentary premieres this weekend at the LA Film Festival.