Screening, panel illuminate the life of former mayor, UCLA alumnus Tom Bradley

A panel discusses Tom Bradley after a screening of a new documentary about the former Los Angeles mayor.

UCLA co-sponsored a special film screening and panel for the PBS documentary “Bridging the Divide: Tom Bradley and the Politics of Race”. Bradley was an alumnus of UCLA, the only African American mayor of Los Angeles, and the longest serving mayor of the city.

The screening and panel took place on Aug. 10 at the Luckman Theatre at California State University, Los Angeles.


Former Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, a UCLA alumnus, was the subject of a new PBS documentary.

Partners for the event included CSULA’s Pat Brown Institute of Public Affairs and CSU Dominguez Hills’ Mervyn Dymally African American Political & Economic Institute, along with PBS SoCal.

Experts have noted the importance of reflecting on Bradley’s legacy and his rise to political prominence.

“Tom Bradley is wildly regarded in the African-American community as a major pioneer,” said Paul Von Blum, UCLA senior lecturer in African-American Studies and Communications Studies. “He was the first major African-American politician in the area to really break through in a big way in the wake of the Watts rebellion. In community settings his legacy is constantly talked about, but not as much in a larger, general way. It’s odd that someone who served that long doesn’t get the kind of public reflection of some of the other major African-American officials over the years.”

Lyn Goldfarb (producer, writer and director) and Alison Sotomayor (producer, research director and writer) started the project in 2008 with an eye toward paralleling former Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley’s ascent to office with what was occurring with President Barack Obama at the time. The duo also said they were shocked by the lack of information on Bradley at the time.

“We were surprised to discover that there were no documentaries about Tom Bradley, no scholarly biographies, no in-depth filmed interview with Bradley, nor any substantive interviews with his staff, colleagues, friends, or family,” they said.

The film chronicles Bradley’s rise from a sharecropper’s son, to a Los Angeles Police Department officer, to a city council member, to mayor of Los Angeles. Ultimately, Bradley served 20 years (five terms) as Los Angeles mayor. Goldfarb and Sotomayor interviewed 130 people and used 50 of those interviews in the final cut.

“Our goal in producing these films is to encourage thoughtful reflection and dialogue about race, racial and ethnic diversity, and coalition building,” they said.

Following the film screening, there was a panel discussion on Bradley’s life and political legacy moderated by Warren Olney, host of KCRW’s “Which Way, LA?” and “To the Point” radio shows. Lorraine Bradley (eldest daughter of Tom Bradley), U.S. Rep. Judy Chu (27th District) ’74, Maria Elena Durazo (UNITE HERE! national vice president for immigration, civil rights and diversity), Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas (Second District) and former Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky (Third District) ’71, participated in the panel entitled “Bridging the Divide: 1965-2015.

“UCLA Government and Community Relations was pleased to partner with the Pat Brown Institute at CSULA and the Mervyn Dymally Institute at CSUDH to honor Mayor Tom Bradley, one of our most distinguished alumni,” Government and Community Relations Assistant Vice Chancellor Keith Parker said. “The collaborative partnership with CSULA and CSUDH are part of our overall efforts to work with other Los Angeles area colleges and universities. These partnerships are integral in building broader public support for higher education in California.”

For more information on the film, visit

Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, UCLA Assistant Vice Chancellor Keith Parker and UNITE HERE! National Vice President Maria Elena Durazo share a moment at the “Bridging the Divide” screening.

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