Mark Ridley-Thomas

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Mark Ridley-Thomas

Mark Ridley-Thomas is a member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

He is married to Avis Ridley-Thomas, the Director of the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office Dispute Resolution Center. They are the proud parents of Morehouse College graduates Sebastian Ridley-Thomas and Sinclair Ridley-Thomas.[1]


The Supervisor is a graduate of Manual Arts High School in Los Angeles and earned a baccalaureate degree in Social Relations (minor in Government) and a master’s degree in Religious Studies (concentration in Christian ethics) from Immaculate Heart College. Mr. Ridley-Thomas went on to receive his Ph.D. in Social Ethics and Policy Analysis from the University of Southern California.[2]

Jobs with Peace

In the 1980s Karen Bass' work with the Venceremos Brigade and Jobs with Peace brought her in contact with activists Gil Cedillo, Anthony Thigpenn, Mark Ridley-Thomas and Antonio Villaraigosa , who were working in the progressive "Black/Brown" movement and were part of Jobs with Peace.[3]

Mentored by Watson

Diane Watson won her first election as black political power in Los Angeles was on the ascent, and successive generations have called her a mentor, including Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Karen Bass and newly seated Assemblywoman Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), whose first job was in Watson's state Senate office.[4]


Ridley-Thomas’ political career was preceded by a decade of service as executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Los Angeles, which followed a brief but successful five-year stint as a high school teacher.

Political career

Prior to his election to the Board, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas served the 26th District in the California State Senate where he chaired the Senate’s Committee on Business, Professions and Economic Development and its two subcommittees on Professional Sports and Entertainment, and The Economy, Workforce Preparation and Development. He served as Chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus in 2008 and led the Caucus in unprecedented levels of cooperation and collaboration with counterparts in the Latino, and Asian-Pacific Islander Legislative Caucuses.

Mark Ridley-Thomas was first elected to public office in 1991 and served with distinction on the Los Angeles City Council for nearly a dozen years and departing as Council President pro Tempore. He later served two terms in the California State Assembly, where he chaired the Assembly Democratic Caucus. His legislative work addressed a broad range of issues with implications for economic and workforce development, health care, public safety, education, budget accountability, consumer protection and civic participation.[5]

FPP conference


According to the Communist Workers Party newspaper Workers Viewpoint March 9 1983, page 3, more than 300 people gathered in Los Angeles to organize a large solidarity conference to coincide with the 1984 los Angeles Olympics.

Organized by Federation For Progress, participants included CISPES, Gray Panthers, ACLU, Alliance for Survival, National Lawyers Guild, NOW, National Resistance Coalition, and United Against Black Genocide.

The conference opened with presentations from Michio Kaku, Wilson Riles, Jr. of the Oakland City Council and Nancy Baker of San Diego Coalition of Labor Union Women. It ended with a powerful presentation at the First Unitarian Church where Philip Zwerling an advisory board member of the Greensboro Justice Fund was Minister.

California State Assembymember Maxine Waters, Ramsey Clark, Michio Kaku and San Francisco Supervisor Harry Britt, "raised the political and spiritual challenges confronting the American people in the struggle for jobs, peace and equality."

Highlight of the conference was the discussion of plans for the 1984 Olympics. Participants were Carol Ono of Federation for Progress, Berkeley professor Harry Edwards, UCLA instructor Judy Chu and Mark Ridley-Thomas, president of the SCLC.



SURVIVAL FEST 84 was held August 5 1984 in MacArthur Park.

"Come To Hear And Strategize With Those Changing The 1980's"

  • How can we support each other in electing progressive local candidates?
  • How can we make electoral work serve the grassroots movements for a freeze, for U.S. out of Central America and human needs?
  • How can we over turn the racist dual primary system in the South?
  • Is working inside and outside the Democratic Party a viable strategy and how can it be done?
  • How can we formulate demands to revitalize our basic industries without falling into the pitfall of the chauvinist anti-import solution -- letting U.S. finance capital off the hook?

This event was organized by the Communist Workers Party front, the Coalition for a People's Convention. The event was advertised in a half-page notice in the Marxist weekly Guardian, their Book Supplement - Summer 1984, p. 12, and the Communist Workers Party and Federation For Progress were listed as participants.

National endorsers of the event included Mark Ridley-Thomas - Executive Director, Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), Los Angeles .

Letter to Samaranch

The '84 Mobilization for Peace and Justice, penned a July 25, 1984 letter to Dr. Juan Antonio Samaranch and Members of the International Olympic Committee, Olympic Headquarters Biltmore Hotel 515 S. Olive St. Los Angeles, CA 90013

We wish to express our outrage at the statements made by members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in support of the Racist Apartheid Regime of South Africa, which is seeking to regain membership of the IOC. Morever we think that appropriate measures should be taken to hasten Mr. Roby's planned retirement and to replace Mr. Roosevelt as members of the IOC.

Mark Ridley-Thomas, endorsed the letter.

Cuban church visit

June 22-28 1984, at the Methodist Church 23rd and K Streets a "Theological Seminar: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Memoriam" was held the Valedo District of Havana, Cuba.

Granma, the Cuban Communist Party newspaper reported that the organizers were the Ecumenical Council of Cuba, the Baptist Worker-Student Coordination of Cuba, and the Caribbean Council of Churches.

The Black Theology Project was listed as a US sponsor, and the Soviet controlled Christian Peace Conference was also represented.

The appearance of US Presidential candidate Jesse Jackson, with Cuban president Fidel Castro, "was the highlight of a King memorial service attended by some 300 representatives of US, Caribbean and Cuban churches.

Jackson was introduced by Benjamin Chavis.

Other attendees included George C.L. Cummings, instructor in Theology of the Chicago Theological Seminary, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, pastor UCC Trinity Church Chicago, Tyrone Fitts, National Council of Churches Racial Justice program, Thelma C. Adair, executive director Church Women United, William Babley, director Racial Union Program Methodist Church, Esmerelda Brown Methodist Church, Calvin Bults Abyssinian Baptist Church, James Cone Union Theological Seminary, Howard Dodson chairman Black Theology Project, Jualynne Dodson dean Union Theological Seminary, Noel Eskind Emory University, Robert Franklin, professor of Ethics University of Chicago, Dwight Hopkins, vice chairman Black Theology Project, president Union Theological Seminary student association, Carolyn Knight, assistant pastor Canaan Baptist Church New York, Mark Ridley-Thomas, executive director Southern Christian Leadership Conference - West, Los Angeles, Gayraud Wilmore, dean Interdenominational Theological Seminary New York.[6]

Black-Latino Roundtable

Anthony Thigpenn, who, as the leader of the L.A. Metro Alliance, is probably the most successful community organizer in South-Central, first met Antonio Villaraigosa in the mid-’80s, when Villaraigosa co-chaired, with Mark Ridley-Thomas, the Black-Latino Roundtable. The goal of the organization, says Thigpenn, was “to create a common agenda, to assert we have more in common than we have in opposition.” Thigpenn sees Villaraigosa‘s mayoral campaign “as a historic moment in Los Angeles, in terms of getting the most progressive mayor the city has ever seen, who has a vision, a commitment, a strategy to bring all parts of the city together. We want to be a part of that historic moment.” [7]

Black-Korean Alliance

Mark Ridley-Thomas, executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Los Angeles; Manuel Pastor, an assistant professor of economics at Occidental College, and Stewart Kwoh, executive director of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center of Southern California, co-wrote an article for the LA Times, Oct. 12, 1989 "The 'New Majority' Wants Its Share : Los Angeles: Putting aside their differences could mean prosperity for the African American, Latino and Asian communities. But can they meet the challenge?".

A prosperous and peaceful future for Los Angeles depends on reversing this polarization and incorporating all of our people into the economic development process. This can be done only if the new majority communities fashion their own vision of prosperity and seek the political and economic power to implement it.
What little has been written about the new majority has tended to focus on inter-community problems: tensions between Korean immigrants and African Americans in South-Central Los Angeles, or conflicts between Latinos and blacks over public employment. What the press has generally missed, however, is a number of initiatives--the Latino-Black Roundtable, the Black-Korean Alliance, the Hispanic-Asian Dialogue, the Federation of Minority Business Assns. and others--that are seeking to establish dialogue.
Our own efforts have started from the premise that the root cause of many of the current inter-ethnic conflicts is a sense that others are gaining larger shares of smaller and smaller development leftovers. We have therefore sought common ground on economic development models and policies that could meet the challenges of the 1990s.
First, community organizations should become actively involved in creating development plans and implementing projects; a positive example is the effort by the Los Angeles Jobs With Peace Campaign to redefine how the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency's policies can positively affect the failing infrastructure of South-Central Los Angeles. Second, the city should extend the linkage concept, requiring downtown builders to simultaneously develop parcels in new-majority areas or contribute to a fund for housing and job training in poor neighborhoods. Third, the city should encourage downtown businesses to pursue fair-share policies, such as hiring new majority residents and subcontracting to small new majority businesses. Fourth, business should develop joint ventures with community groups, using them, for example, to provide potential employees.
Finally, the African American, Latino and Asian American communities that comprise the new majority should pursue joint ventures: agreements to work together politically, pool capital resources, organize workers across ethnic lines and support community development efforts in each other's neighborhoods.

DSA support

In 1991 the Los Angeles Democratic Socialists of America local supported two winning candidates for the Los Angeles City Council — Mark Ridley-Thomas and Ruth Galanter.[8]

West Coast Socialist Scholars Conference 1993

Dem. Left March/April 1993, page 13

The West Coast Socialist Scholars Conference 1993, "New Realities, New Identities ; Socialism and Empowerment" was held April 17, 1993 University of California, Los Angeles.[9]

Speakers included;

Co-sponsors were Socialist Community School - Democratic Socialists of America - Committees of Correspondence - Concerned Faculty (UCLA) - CrossRoads Magazine - International Socialist Organization - Socialist Organizing Network - Solidarity - Union of Radical Political Economists[10]

Socialists organize to "challenge for power" in Los Angeles

Trevor email 1 (3).jpg

On March 11, 1998, Los Angeles Democratic Socialists of America leader Steve Tarzynski wrote an email to another Los Angeles DSA leader Harold Meyerson.

Tarzynski listed 25 people he thought should be on an "A-list" of "25 or so leaders/activists/intellectuals and/or "eminent persons" who would gather periodically to theorize/strategize about how to rebuild a progressive movement in our metropolitan area that could challenge for power."

Tarzynski listed himself, Harold Meyerson, Karen Bass, Sylvia Castillo, Gary Phillips, Joe Hicks, Richard Rothstein, Steve Cancian, Larry Frank, Torie Osborn, Rudy Acuna, Aris Anagnos, Abby Arnold, Carl Boggs, Blase Bonpane, Rick Brown, Stanley Sheinbaum, Alice Callahan, Jim Conn, Peter Dreier, Maria Elena Durazo, Miguel Contreras, Mike Davis, Bill Gallegos, Bob Gottlieb, Kent Wong, Russell Jacoby, Bong Hwan Kim, Paula Litt (and Barry Litt, with a question mark), Peter Olney, Derek Shearer, Clancy Sigal and Anthony Thigpenn.

Included in a suggested elected officials sub-group were Mark Ridley-Thomas, Gloria Romero, Jackie Goldberg, Gil Cedillo, Tom Hayden, Antonio Villaraigosa, Paul Rosenstein and Congressmen Xavier Becerra, Henry Waxman and Maxine Waters.

Tarzynski went on to write "I think we should limit the group to 25 max, otherwise group dynamics begins to break down....As i said, I would like this to take place in a nice place with good food and should properly be an all day event."

Supporting Sandre Swanson

In 2006, Mark Ridley-Thomas, Democratic Caucus Chair California State Assembly , was one of many prominent Northern California leftists to serve on State Assembly hopeful Sandre Swanson's Honorary Campaign Committee.[11]

Liberty Hill Foundation

As at 2009, Mark Ridley-Thomas was a member of the Advisory Board of the Liberty Hill Foundation, a Los Angeles based organization seeking to advance movements for social change through a combination of grants, leadership training and alliance-building.[12]

Liberty Hill Commissions Training Program

Liberty Hill Commissions Training Program Sponsorship Committee members: Sheila Kuehl (Chair), Director, Public Policy Institute at Santa Monica College and former State Senator; Dean Hansell President, Board of Fire & Police Pension Commissioners; Lara Bergthold, Principal, Griffin Schein; Aileen Adams, Deputy Mayor of Strategic Partnerships Office of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa; Stewart Kwoh, President, Asian Pacific American Legal Center; Kathay Feng, Executive Director, Common Cause; Tom Saenz, President and General Counsel, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF); Torie Osborn, Deputy Mayor of Neighborhood and Community Services Office of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa; Larry Frank, Deputy Chief of Staff, Office of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa; Pascual Romel, Deputy Mayor for the Environment, Office of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa; Nolan Rollins, President & CEO Los Angeles Urban League; Helen Torres, Executive Director Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE); Regina Freer, Professor, Occidental College, Vice President, Planning Commission; Sharon Delugach, Community Engagement Coordinator, American Federation of Teachers; Roxana Tynan, Executive Director Los Angeles for a New Economy (LAANE). Honorary Co-Chairs: Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Assemblymember Jimmy Gomez, Assemblymember Holly Mitchell, Assemblymember Bob Blumenfield.[13]

Interfaith, Community and Law Enforcement Leaders Condemn Terrorism

December 16, 2015, in Los Angeles, Attorney General Kamala Harris convened interfaith and community leaders and law enforcement officials in southern California, after the recent terrorist attacks in San Bernardino and Paris, to condemn terrorism and discuss the danger of the recent rise in Islamophobic rhetoric and several high-profile hate crime incidents over the past week. Attorney General Harris discussed the critical role of American Muslim communities in our fight against radicalization and terrorism at home and abroad, and the danger posed when alienating this community.

“As Americans, we are unified in our commitment to protect our country from terrorist attacks, and we must seek justice for those who lost their lives in the recent attacks in Paris and San Bernardino,” said Attorney General Harris.

Participants in the gathering included leaders from the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), Muslim Public Affairs Council, Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, Shia Muslim Council of Southern California, Muslim Students Associated West, Project Islamic Hope, Bend the Arc, Union for Reform Judaism, Holman United Methodist Church, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Progressive Christians Uniting, and Asian Americans Advancing Justice, as well as Los Angles Sheriff Jim McDonnell, representatives from the Los Angeles Police Department, the Office of Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, and the Office of Supervisor Hilda Solis.

"Attorney General Harris has exemplified leadership by initiating this meeting with Muslim community and civil rights leaders to address the spike in hate crimes against American Muslims and other minorities," said Hussam Ayloush, Executive Director of CAIR-Los Angeles.

“One of the primary teachings of Judaism is that all human beings are created in the image of God. As an American, I believe in the rule of law, fairness and justice, as well as equal protection for all citizens. In this time of swirling darkness and rising hate, I hope and pray that we remember our humanity, remember our essence and remember why live in the United States,” said Rabbi Joshua Levine Grater, Co-Founder of Abrahamic Faiths Peacemaking Initiative.[14]

2016 Spirit of Courage Awards

On November 17, 2016, Courage Campaign hosted the Sixth Annual Spirit of Courage Awards at the Taglyan Complex in Hollywood, to honor two courageous champions and inspiring leaders -- State Senator Holly Mitchell and author and activist Steve Phillips.

Special thanks to our sponsors: United Domestic Workers of America, National Union of Healthcare Workers, California Federation of Teachers, Lawrence Hess & Suzanne Hess, Rosenthal Family Foundation, Nancy Stephens and Jamie Wolf, Anne Frahn and Buzz Frahn, Lindsay Gardner & Karen Gardner, Jihee Huh & Peter Huh, Glen Dake, Renee Dake Wilson & Brian Wilson, Weston Milliken, Peg Yorkin, California Teachers Association, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Bruce Arena & Phyllis Arena, United Food and Commercial Workers, Suzi Dietz, Drug Policy Alliance, Jamie McGurk, ACLU, Quinn Delaney & Wayne Jordan, Tom Lockard, Streisand Foundation, Muriel Pollia Foundation, Irene Romero, Terri Weiss, Ken Kim and Johanna Kim, Janet Braun, UNITE HERE! Local 11, Stashimi, Fran Jemmott, Seeley Mudd Foundation, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles, Laura Gowen, Capital & Main, and in loving memory of Jack Eustis.[15]


  1. LA Board of Supervisors official bio, accessed July 28, 2011
  2. LA Board of Supervisors official bio, accessed july 28, 2011
  3. [Black Los Angeles: American Dreams and Racial Realities edited by Darnell M. Hunt, Ana-Christina Ramón page 137]
  4. LA Times Diane Watson looks back on a career as a legislator and inspirationJanuary 01, 2011|By Jean Merl, Los Angeles Times
  5. LA Board of Supervisors official bio, accessed July 28, 2011
  6. [Information Digest, August 3, 1984, pages 247-248]
  7. LA Weekly, Crunch Time The race to succeed Richard Riordan — and to reshape Los Angeles — comes down to the wire Harold Meyerson published: March 29, 2001
  9. Dem. Left March/April 1993
  10. Dem. Left March/April 1993
  11. Sandre Swanson website, Endorsements, accessed July 28, 2011
  12. Liberty Hill website: Advisory Board
  13. [1]
  14. [ Xavier Becerra Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Convenes Interfaith, Community and Law Enforcement Leaders to Condemn Terrorism and Address the Danger of Islamophobic Rhetoric After Recent Terrorist Attacks Press Release Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Convenes Interfaith, Commu…]
  15. [2]