Tom Bradley


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(b. Calvert, Texas, 29 Dec. 1917; d. Los Angeles, 29 Sept. 1998)

US; mayor of Los Angeles 1974–94 Educated at Southwest Law School and UCLA, Bradley was for many years (1940–62) a member of the Los Angeles Police Department. From 1963 onwards he was fully involved in Los Angeles elective politics, becoming the city's most prominent black leader and serving as a city council member (1963–73) and as mayor (1974–94).

Bradley was the first black mayor of Los Angeles and one of a group of black mayors who played an increasingly important role in American politics. Race played a part in Bradley's first attempt to become mayor in 1969. Then populist Sam Yorty beat Bradley; but once Bradley won the mayoralty, he managed to maintain a coalition of blacks, Jews, Latinos, and liberals in support of his policies. Bradley moved to incorporate business into the running of the city and was so successful that Los Angeles for a period became a model of racial co-operation and of partnership between the business community and the public sector. His moderate approach disappointed some of his more radical supporters; and there emerged widespread concern about congestion and growth in the city. Yet Bradley remained personally popular and in 1982 he ran for Governor of California. However, he narrowly lost the general election to the Republican George Deukmejian. When Deukmejian and Bradley fought each other again for the governorship in 1986 Bradley was more decisively defeated.

Bradley's position in California state politics gave him a high profile in national Democratic politics and in 1976 he co-chaired the Democratic national convention. In 1993 Bradley chose not to run again and he resumed private law practice. In 1996 he suffered a stroke while undergoing heart surgery and, although he survived, his activities were inevitably limited thereafter.

Subjects: Politics — United States History.

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