Thirty-five years before Barack Obama’s election as President, the question of race and the possibility of bridging racial barriers were put to the test in an overlooked story in American politics: Tom Bradley’s 1973 election as Mayor of Los Angeles: the first African American mayor of a major U.S. city elected with an overwhelmingly white majority. It was a remarkable political first in the history of race and politics in America.
BRIDGING THE DIVIDE tells the story of how Bradley’s coalition of African Americans, Jews, white liberals, Mexican Americans and Asian Americans united a divided city, brought inclusion and access, and set the foundation for sustainable inter-racial coalitions that later encouraged the elections of minority candidates nationwide, most notably President Barack Obama. At the same time, the film examines the complexities and contradictions of Bradley’s career as a bridge builder.
BRIDGING THE DIVIDE brings into sharp focus the issues of police brutality in minority communities and the challenges of police reform, shows how Tom Bradley, a former police officer whose political aspirations were shaped by the Watts Rebellion, could not break the cycles of poverty and despair that would ultimately spark the 1992 Los Angeles civil unrest, and mark the end of his era.
BRIDGING THE DIVIDE: TOM BRADLEY AND THE POLITICS OF RACE, is the story of multi-ethnic Los Angeles finding its voice and identity in the face of discrimination and political disenfranchisement. And it is the story of the challenges of diversity facing cities across the nation, and the decisions we all must make.
World Premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival 2015
National PBS broadcast February 2016
Director, Producer, Writer: Lyn Goldfarb
Research Director, Producer, Writer: Alison Sotomayor
Editors: Stosh Jarecki and Lillian E. Benson, ACE
Cinematographer: Michelle Crenshaw
Narrator: Alfre Woodard
Composer: Stephen James Taylor
Motion Graphics Designer: Randy Kubaszak
National Endowment for the Humanities
California Community Foundation
Ralph M. Parsons Foundation
W.K. Kellogg Foundation
Los Angeles City Council Heritage Fund
National Black Programming Consortium
with support from Corporation for Public Broadcasting