Name: Thomas Bradley
Basics: He was the first black mayor of Los Angeles and served in that role for five terms stretching from 1973 to 1993. For many African-Americans in the early 20th century, it seemed like Los Angeles and the West as a whole was a place that they would be free from the many oppressions they faced in other parts of the country. He served in the LAPD for 21 years and while a cop he worked with progressive political groups to combat covert racism. In 1973, he became the first African-American mayor to be elected in a major city with a white majority. He transformed L.A. from a white, conservative city into one of the most diverse and important cities in the world.
Why I Chose Him: This man’s story is testimony to why we have to be involved in politics. Yes, politics are corrupt. That’s a fact, but we can’t let that turn us away from the political process. We can’t just be concerned about having a black President. We must have black people in Congress, as Mayors, as Governors and on our City Councils. Creating change requires economic and political capital. We must work inside and outside of the system equally to create a true and fair landscape for America. Thomas Bradley did that by being a police officer and attorney while at the same time working with minority coalition groups. The approach to change must be balanced.