Tom Bradley was unifying figure with a vision of what Los Angeles could be in the 21st Century, as portrayed in the documentary “Bridging The Divide: Tom Bradley and the Politics of Race,” which was screened at the Pasadena Public Library on Saturday.
Like Bradley himself, the 2015 documentary film by Lyn Goldfarb and Alison Sotomayor attracted a range of audience members. It was shown as part of the Black History Festival at the Pasadena Library. Bradley was the first African American mayor of Los Angeles, governing from 1973-1993.
The film shows that even during his first of five terms in office, Bradley knew LA could be the business leader not only of the West Coast of the U.S., but also the entire Pacific Rim. The film points out that besides being a figure who rose the ranks and helped give a voice to LA’s ethnically diverse population, he was a brilliant business leader.
Bradley knew that to be a business power, improvements to infrastructure needed to be made, said Christopher D. West, professor of African American studies at Pasadena City College, who was on hand for a Q and A following the film. And using the port of Los Angeles would be key.
“He understood that container traffic was going to be the future, and if it didn’t have the infrastructure necessary we were going to revisit it,” said West. He said Bradley knew that Los Angeles could compete with other ports on the West Coast like San Diego and Seattle so he helped pave the way for the infrastructure to enable business to take place in the Pacific Rim.
West said that it was Bradley, too who also helped usher in today’s modernized mass transit. Goldfarb’s film, he said, shows clearly Bradley’s line of thinking in his first year in the office.
“He’s already figuring out we’ve got to get that infrastructure on public transportation,” West said. “He says we’ve got to have public transportation. So the beginning of what was going to be Los Angeles public transportation metro system, again begins with Bradley.”
There are so many aspects to the story of Bradley it’s hard to cover it all, Goldfarb said. But perhaps one of his lasting legacies was his aim to bring people and disparate business entities together.
“He worked to develop the city,” Goldfarb said. “He believed there was a certain amount of trickle down and that if we build up the city, everyone will benefit,.
In the audience was John Tuite with his wife, Lynne. Tuite worked with Bradley as the head of the administration’s redevelopment agency.
“He wasn’t perfect and didn’t realize all of the goals in mind, but he was such a moral man and had a vision of the 21st century and what it took to build it,” Tuite said. “He was a model particularly for the politicians we see around us today.”
Lynne Tuite added that Bradley went beyond politics and business. He truly cared about his colleagues, friends and relations and won over people with his personal touch.
“We have four daughters and Tom took the time to attend all their weddings,” she said. “He was part of our family.”