Congressional voice for immigration

Mervyn Malcolm Dymally.
AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes

Mervyn Malcolm Dymally (born May 12, 1926 in Cedros, Trinidad and Tobago) is a California Democratic politician of mixed Indian and Afro-Trinidadian heritage.

He served in the California State Assembly (1963–1966) and the California State Senate (1967–1975), as the 41st lieutenant governor of California (1975–1979), and in the U.S. House of Representatives (1981–1993). After a 10-year retirement, he returned to politics to serve in the California State Assembly (2002–2008).

Dymally was the first Trinidadian to serve as lieutenant governor of California. He also served as the first Trinidadian in the California State Senate prior to his time as lieutenant governor. As a member of the House of Representatives, he was one of the first persons of African and Indian origin to serve in the U.S. Congress.

Along with George L. Brown of Colorado, who was also elected a lieutenant governor in 1974, Dymally was one of the two first blacks elected to any statewide office in any state since Reconstruction (Oscar Dunn of Louisiana was the first black elected lieutenant governor).

Dymally received his secondary education at Naparima College, San Fernando, Trinidad, his undergraduate education at Lincoln University, Jefferson City, Missouri and Los Angeles State College, his master’s degree from California State University, Sacramento, and his doctorate from United States International University (now Alliant International University), San Diego.

In the tightly contested race for Lt. governor in 1978, Dymally’s bid for re-election was derailed when Michael Franchetti, an aid to State Senator George Deukmejian, floated a false rumor that Dymally was about to be indicted.

The story, coming days before the election, harmed the Dymally campaign, and Dymally lost to Republican Mike Curb. Franchetti later said that the source of the rumor was a Los Angeles Times reporter, who called the Justice Department trying to confirm its authenticity. Franchetti could not substantiate the rumor but included it in a report. The report was then passed to Dymally’s opponent and later to a television reporter. Then-Atty. Gen. Younger filed a letter of reprimand in Franchetti’s personnel records, accusing him of a breach of responsibility.

Dymally came out of retirement and returned to the California State Assembly in 2002 when Assemblyman Carl Washington was term limited. He served for six years and then tried to return to the State Senate in 2008. However, he was defeated in the Democratic primary for State Senate election by Rod Wright.

Dymally is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity.

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