The Tom & Ethel Bradley Center has over one million images produced by Los Angeles-based photographers that document the social, cultural and political lives of the diverse communities of Los Angeles and the Southern California region between the 1910s and the present. The archives contain one of the largest collections of African American photographers west of the Mississippi and the most extensive collection in Southern California.
In addition are the collections of Edward Alfano; David Blumenkrantz, documenting various regions of Africa; Herb Carleton, covering the San Fernando Valley; Emmon Clarke, containing extensive documentation of the United Farmworkers organization and César Chávez, Dolores Huerta, Gibert Padilla, Luis Valdez and other leaders of the union and its members; and Richard Cross, that documents the wars in El Salvador and Honduras, the Afro-Columbian community Palenque de San Basilio (near Cartagena), Cuba, the Masai and the Maya refugee camps in Mexico.
The Bradley Center has a Border Studies Collection that examines the issues surrounding the border between the United States and Mexico. Through photographic collections, oral histories, manuscripts, videos, newspaper archives and guest lectures issues such as immigration, human rights, globalization, and economic violence are examined.
Photographer Charles "Chuck" Williams worked for the Los Angeles Sentinel, California Eagle and other publications. His career spans from the mid-1940s to 1980s. Williams covered people and event in the African American community, Civil Rights Movement, and night clubs including The Plantation, The Down Beat, The Cobra Room and many others. He established and taught at The California School of Photography and employed young professions of all backgrounds. Councilman Gordon Hahn appointed Williams as his field deputy and he became the official photographer of Hahn. Due to his involvement with Hahn and Councilman Gilbert Lindsay, his documentation of the City Council, council members, and activities is especially rich. Later, Williams opened the first black advertising agency on the West Coast and added the "Charm Centre," a fashion and model school.
The Bradley Center is completing a three-year grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, digitizing over 17,000 images from photographers Charles Williams, Harry Adams, and Guy Crowder. The images document the African American community in post-World War II Los Angeles and will be made available online through CSUN’s Oviatt Library’s Digital Collections.
Los Angeles: Displacement in Utopia
This mini documentary examines the history of how racial restrictive covenants developed, who fought against them, and how they were legally struck down in Los Angeles California and eventually the nation.
Featured Oral History Clip:
Clip from interview with Civil Rights activist and former executive secretary for the Western Christian Leadership Conference Gwen Green. Mrs. Green worked with Dr. King, Hosea Williams, Harry Belafonte, Andrew Young and Sammy Davis Jr. In this segment she discusses the power of nonviolent protest and the fear that accompanies it.
As part of our NEH grant to digitize the collection, the Bradley Center is conducting interviews with community members about growing up and living in Los Angeles during the Civil Rights Movement. We will be posting clips from these interviews as they are available.
The Tom & Ethel Bradley Center announces the curriculum workshop African Americans in Los Angeles (on February 7). Dr. David Moguel will lead the workshop for history and social science teachers in our area, based on a set of on-line lessons and other resources featuring photographs of Los Angeles’ African-American community from the 1940s to the 1990s. This new curriculum provides teachers a fresh look at the African-American experience in Los Angeles, sprinkled with a bit of Hollywood glitter, but unafraid to explore some of the darkest undersides of a largely unknown history.
Four sets of lessons ask challenging questions, and provide teachers and their students access to the photographs which have been digitized with the assistance of a federal grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, video and audio oral interviews, maps and interesting ideas for classroom activities. Topics include African Americans at Work in Post-WWII Los Angeles, Race, Housing and the fight for Civil Rights in Los Angeles, the Struggle to Desegregate Los Angeles Schools,and the Intentional Civility of Mayor Tom Bradley.
Willis Edwards video and timeline
In the spring of 2018, the Tom & Ethel Bradley Center asked Dr. Jessica Kim's students enrolled in her course History 596RM: Introduction to Public History to research, write, and produce a short documentary pitch video and interactive timeline on activist Willis Edwards (1946–2012). Edwards is not a household name; most Angelenos have no idea who he was. He was not a politician, entertainer, or athletic star. However, behind the scenes in the African American and Civil Rights communities, Edwards had a knack for making things happen and for speaking truth to power. Although he had very little money or institutional support, Edwards’ life and work intersected with and shaped the administration of Mayor Tom Bradley, the Civil Rights movement, the life and legacy of Rosa Parks, the reach and influence of the NAACP, and the international HIV/AIDS movement. Click here to see Willis Edwards video and timeline.
It is with a great deal of both concern and hope for the future of the U.S.A. that we announce the launch of the Bradley Digital History Project, a set of on-line lessons and other resources featuring photographs of Los Angeles' African-American community from the 1940s to the 1990s.