This Day in History: Tom Bradley Elected as First Black Mayor of Los Angeles in 1973


Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley speaks in a televised address following the verdicts in the trial of four Los Angeles police officers charged in the violation of Rodney King's civil rights, Saturday, April 17, 1993 in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Akili-Casundria Ramsess, File).
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On May 29, 1973, Tom Bradley became the first Black American elected mayor of Los Angeles. He defeated incumbent Sam Yorty with 56 percent of the vote.

The win was considered trailblazing by historians, taking into account the city’s largely white population at the time. Bradley served in office from 1973 to 1993, giving him the longest tenure as mayor in the city’s history before term limits were passed by voters in 1990.

He ran for governor in 1982 and 1986 but lost both times. His loss in 1982 gave birth to the term “the Bradley effect” in U.S. politics, highlighting the inconsistencies between voter opinion polls and actual election outcomes when a white candidate runs against a person of color.

Tom Bradley passed away in 1998 at the age of 80.

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