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Bridging the Divide: Tom Bradley and the Politics of Race

57 min. Our LA. mayortombradley.com/buy. 2016. $100. ISBN 9780692577417.
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Gr 9 Up—When he was elected in 1973, Tom Bradley (1917–98) became the first African American mayor of a major U.S. city with a white majority. He and Los Angeles faced complex challenges: racial and economic divisions, along with a segregated police force. Bradley, the grandson of slaves and son of sharecroppers, and his family moved to the city from Texas in the 1920s, hoping for a better life. A gifted student and athlete, Bradley attended UCLA and in 1940 joined the police force, where he rose to the level of lieutenant. Racist policies under Chief William H. Parker denied him further advancement, so Bradley earned a law degree in night school and became a lawyer. He was elected to the city council in 1963, and he ran for mayor in 1969. Bradley lost but won in a landslide four years later. During his 20 years in office, the city recovered from the scars of the 1965 Watts riot and hosted the 1984 Summer Olympics. Unfortunately, the late 1980s saw job losses and economic decline, and Los Angeles erupted in violent protests in 1992 following the beating of motorist Rodney King. Bradley declined to run for mayor again and died in 1998. Interviews with his daughters, local leaders, and longtime staff members round out this admiring portrait.
VERDICT Though it glosses over Bradley's final years, this documentary provides strong evidence of his skill in building bridges. An excellent introduction to his life and times, this is a good resource for high school students.

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