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Wed, 05.12.1926

Mervyn Dymally, California Congressman born

Mervyn Dymally

On this date in 1926, Mervyn M. Dymally, a Black educator and politician, was born.

Born in Cedros, Trinidad, in the British West Indies, Dymally attended Cedros Government School on Trinidad and St. Benedict and Naparima secondary schools in San Fernando, Trinidad. In 1946 he arrived in the United States to study at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, MO. He earned a B.A. degree in education from California State University, Los Angeles (UCLA), in 1954. In 1956, he began a career as a teacher of exceptional children in Los Angeles.

Dymally became a member of the U. S. House of Representatives in 1981 following a diverse career in education and government. From 1963 to 1966, Dymally served in the California Assembly and was a member of the state senate from 1967 until 1975.  As a state senator, he chaired committees on social welfare, military and veterans’ affairs, elections and reapportionment, and a select committee on medical education and health needs. While a member of the legislature, he earned an M.A. degree in government at California State University at Sacramento in 1969.

In 1974 he was elected lieutenant governor of California; he also headed the State Commission for Economic Development and the Commission of the Californias. He was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1978, the same year he received a Ph.D. degree in human behavior from United States International University in San Diego.

Dymally defeated Representative Charles H. Wilson and three other candidates in the June 1980 primary in California's 31st Congressional District and was decisively elected in November. He served on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, chairing its Subcommittee on International Operations.

He also served on the Post Office and Civil Service Committee and the District of Columbia Committee, chairing its Subcommittee on Judiciary and Education. From 1987 until 1989 he was chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.  Dymally has sponsored legislation advocating the causes of many human rights groups and has devoted particular attention to United States policies toward and assistance levels for nations in Africa and the Caribbean.

He has also called for increased funding for the education of minority students and senior citizens and for expanded opportunities for minority-owned and operated energy firms to develop oil and gas resources on federal land.  Rep. Dymally retired from the Congress in 1992, he died on October 7, 2012, at Mervyn M Dymally Senior High School at 88th street and San Pedro in South Central Los Angeles, part of the Los Angeles Unified School District is named in his honor.

To Become a Political Scientist


Black Americans In Congress 1870-1989.
Bruce A. Ragsdale & Joel D. Treese
U.S. Government Printing Office
Raymond W. Smock, historian and director 1990

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