Who was Rev. Bradford?
"The Forgotten Man's Hour"
Father Charles Coughlin
The Ford Hunger March
The River Rouge Plant
African Americans and the Success of the CIO
Lewis Bradford
Harry Bennett
The Battle of the Overpass
Layoffs and Intimidation
Muriel Lester
Lewis is Attacked
Lewis Dies
Locating the Autopsy
A City Mourns
Who Knew?
UAW Wins at Ford


Lewis Bradford

Many Bradford relatives came to visit our home in Maryland, driving or flying from various parts of the country. One granddaughter said, "I'm just sure there's a diary. I've seen it, and it's in Albuquerque." Two weeks later, I got a call from Ella-Kari Loftfield - "We found the diary!" It was written by Lewis in the years leading up to the murder, and Ella wrote in it as well. Ella-Kari caught a plane 5 days later. I picked her up at the airport, and she was cradling the special document safely in her arms.

Reading the diary, we learned about Lewis's transition from minister to organizer. He wrote in the third person, "The real reason for Lewis being in Detroit is that he should make a guided approach toward meeting the spiritual need of Detroit. This is to be done at present, through his work, not as an evangelist." (Entry in Lewis Bradford's diary, April 20, 1935).

Ella and Lewis learned that the surgeries for Little Ella, arranged for by Dr. Sladen, were successful. The family celebrated. Lewis had a job, an income. And while Ella worried about the dangers in the factory, she supported Lewis's efforts.

They had an affectionate relationship. Lewis wrote in a letter: "I can see you right there with your face between my two hands and love light in your eyes." (p. 2, letter from Lewis to Ella Bradford, dated May 6, 1935).

Clip from "I'm Here For You", soloist: Laurel Blaydes.

Little Ella would recall years later how devoted Lewis could be as a father. Once they hiked Mt. Marcy in New York. Back at the car, she burst into tears - she had left her stuffed teddy bear at the top. Lewis hiked all the way back to the top to retrieve it.

But Lewis was not content to be passive in the Rouge plant. Ella recalled, "He could not understand why, as soon as men went through the gate, they seemed to change personality. From being cordial and friendly, they apparently became suspicious and hostile." (p. 8, letter from Ella Bradford, to daughter Helen, March, 1965). Lewis had come from a family of Abolitionists. His parents had met while working in Mississippi with the Methodist Church Freedman's Aid Society, teaching newly freed slaves to read. The Ku Klux Klan surrounded Mrs. Bradford's schoolhouse once and prevented teacher and students from leaving for two weeks. Despite the attacks, they remained in Mississippi for 15 years.

Clip from "It's About Time", soloist: Mike Thornton.

Here at the Rouge, Lewis was determined not to back down.

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