The seven-year effort to produce a documentary on the late Tom Bradley reaches a new height this month with airings on PBS channels across the country. PBS SoCal will air Bridging the Divide: Tom Bradley and the Politics of Race, tonight at 8 p.m. Bradley served as mayor of Los Angeles for five terms, from 1973 to 1993, following the most racially inflamed LA political campaigns of my lifetime (and, not coincidentally, the elections with the highest voter participation.) As producers Lyn Goldfarb and Alison Sotomayor show, Bradley was an alumnus of UCLA and the LAPD who sat on the City Council from South LA when he ran citywide for the first time in 1969, just four years after the destructive and deadly Watts Riots. Incumbent mayor Sam Yorty did everything he could to scare white voters with threats of black militants and white communists taking over the city, and he survived in 1969. In the replay four years later, Bradley won with the first effective citywide coalition of liberal white voters, blacks and Latinos. He didn't face a major challenge to reelection until his final term.
A taste of the 1969 race:
"Bridging the Divide: Tom Bradley and the Politics of Race" airs at 8 p.m. tonight on PBS SoCal. It began running Feb. 1 on PBS stations across the country, after premiering at last year's Los Angeles Film Festival. The film is narrated by actress Alfre Woodard.
Columnist Bill Boyarsky wrote last year that "the excellent new documentary, 'Bridging the Divide: Tom Bradley and the Politics of Race,' tells the terrible story of race relations in Los Angeles, particularly the way a racist police department brutalized African Americans and white property owners kept blacks, Latinos, Asian Americans and sometimes Jews out of segregated neighborhoods. It relates this through the life of Bradley, the five-term African American mayor who brought the city together, as King Arthur sang in Camelot, 'for one brief shining moment,' and then saw it crumble in fire and death during the 1992 riot."
Previously on LA Observed:
Tom Bradley film looking for money