Black L.A. 1947: First African American Named to L.A. Police Commission

Charles H. Matthews


Jan. 2, 1947: The Los Angeles Sentinel publishes the photo of Charles H. Matthews on Page 1 as part of its roundup of major stories from 1946. Matthews, a former deputy district attorney and an NAACP executive at the time, was appointed to the Los Angeles Police Commission by Mayor Fletcher Bowron. The mayor also appointed Agnes Albro, identified universally as Mrs. Curtis Albro, the first woman named to the commission; and Bruno Newman, a mining engineer and attorney for the Mexican Consulate who had lived in Mexico for many years.

Matthews, who was rejected twice by the Los Angeles County Bar Assn. on racial grounds, was finally given an honorary membership in 1980. Then-Mayor Tom Bradley, who delivered the eulogy at Matthews’ funeral, spoke of working in Matthews’ law offices. Bradley said he learned more from working with Matthews than he did in law school.

We will see more of Matthews as 1947 unfolds.

For those who just tuned in, we’re going to reboot the concept of the 1947project (founded by Kim Cooper and Nathan Marsak) by going day by day through 1947 – but using the Los Angeles Sentinel, an African American weekly, rather than the very white and very conservative Los Angeles Times. We promise you an extremely different view of Los Angeles.


The historic Los Angeles Sentinel is available online from the Los Angeles Public Library. We encourage anyone with a library card to delve into the back issues and explore the history of black L.A.


Jan. 24, 1985, Charles Matthews Obituary

Charles H. Matthews’ obituary in the Los Angeles Sentinel, Jan. 24, 1985.

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in 1946, 1947, African Americans, LAPD and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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