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January 21, 2014
Freshman Facts: Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, the L.A. scion


He may be the Legislature's youngest member, but 26-year-old Sebastian Ridley-Thomas brings a keen sense of history to his new job.

Alongside the framed black-and-white photos of vintage Los Angeles that adorn the walls of his office is a snapshot of his great-uncle Eugene Thomas with former state lawmaker and Lt. Gov. Mervyn Dymally, a pioneering Californian African-American politician.

Thomas was part of the initial family migration from Louisiana to Los Angeles back in the 1920s. The next generation included Mark Ridley-Thomas, a member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, a former state lawmaker and Sebastian's father.

"Public service has been a priority, and my family has been engaged for some time," Ridley-Thomas said, calling his great-uncle Eugene's role as a newspaper publisher "my family's entry into public activity."

Like other members of California political dynasties, Ridley-Thomas insisted he has made his own way. He became familiar with his current district more from working for then-Senator Curren Price than because of his family legacy, he said.

But after describing photos on his office walls of Morehouse College in Atlanta and Loyola High School in Los Angeles, both alma maters of Ridley-Thomas and his twin brother Sinclair, Sebastian-Ridley Thomas took a moment to appreciate his pedigree.

"I've had the opportunity to be part of some unique institutions in my short life," he said. "I've honored them and hope to live up to the expectations of those places."