This Day in Black History: May 29, 1973

This Day in Black History: May 29, 1973

This Day in Black History: May 29, 1973

Tom Bradley was elected the first African-American mayor of Los Angeles on May 29, 1973.

Published May 29, 2013

(Photo: Sam Mircovich / Reuters)

On May 29, 1973, Tom Bradley became the first African-American elected mayor of Los Angeles. In that election, 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 was defeated each time by George Deukmejian. His loss in 1982 gave birth to the term "the Bradley effect" in U.S. politics, underlining the inconsistencies between voter opinion polls and actual election outcomes when a white candidate runs against a minority. Bradley retired from political life in 1993.

In March 1996, he suffered a heart attack and later a stroke that left him paralyzed and unable to speak. He suffered a second heart attack and passed away on Sept. 29, 1998 at the age of 80.

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Written by Britt Middleton


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