PCC professor Christopher Jimenez y West is known around campus for being a voice for civil rights as well as his extensive knowledge of history. Just recently, West shared his knowledge for the documentary film “Bridging the Divide.”
The film, produced by Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Lyn Goldfarb and Emmy Award-winner Alison Sotomayor, tells the story of Mayor Tom Bradley and the fight for racial equality.
Bradley was elected Mayor of Los Angeles in 1973, making him the first African-American to be elected mayor in a major U.S. city. At the time the majority population in Los Angeles was white.
West had been involved with this project since graduate school.
“It was a blast. I get to play filmmaker when I’m a historian,” said West. “There’s no pay or compensation, but it was a blast.”
West was the co-chief academic advisor alongside Raphael J. Soneshein of Cal State University, Los Angeles.
“It was Raphael, a large number of historians and there was little ol’ me,” said West.
While downplaying his role in the making of the film, he acknowledged the significance of what he did.
“Whenever someone came up to us and asked us, ‘Here’s a question we have, what do you guys think?’ we were there,” said West. “We helped make the film historically accurate. It was an honor and a privilege to work on something like this.”
West believed in the project, making work seem less like work.
“I believed in the project, but most importantly I believed in Tom Bradley,” said West.
West spoke admiringly about Bradley and was able to share some of that gratitude with Bradley’s daughter Lorraine Bradley.
“My thoughts were, ‘I need to tell you how much your dad meant to me. How much he meant to this city and the world’,” said West.
West hopes the work he and his colleagues have done inspire generations to come.
“I’m going to die one day,” said West. “I’m going to leave this planet, but I want to leave with a record of this historic coalition. If there’s a kid in middle school or high school that can see something like this existed, we’ve done our job.”
“Bridging the Divide” premiered at the L.A. film festival over the summer and will air nationally on PBS in February 2016, but PCC students can get their first look on Oct. 15 at the campus.
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