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Kappa mourns the loss of political trailblazer, Brother Mervyn Dymally

posted Oct 8, 2012, 2:21 PM by Ed Sanders   [ updated Oct 8, 2012, 7:48 PM ]
Brother Mervyn M. Dymally, a 1949 initiate of the Upsilon Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, passed away Sunday morning at age 86.

Dymally was a trailblazer in the field of politics. While teaching exceptional needs students in Los Angeles, Dymally volunteered in local politics and served as the California Young Democrats' state treasurer. He worked for the 1960 Democratic National Convention held in Los Angeles, and subsequently served as a field coordinator during the presidential campaign of John F. Kennedy.

Elected to the California State Assembly in 1962, he became the first foreign-born Black American elected to the state's legislature. Just four years later, he became the first African-American elected to the California State Senate, where he served eight years.

Brother Dymally became a founding member of California's Legislative Black Caucus in 1967. Current CLBC Chair Senator Curren Price recently said of Dymally, “he has broken down so many barriers and mentored so many legislators, Black and non-Black, that we would be remiss not to honor him for opening up the doors that we now walk through.”

In 1974, Californians elected Dymally to be Lieutenant Governor--making him the first African-American elected to one of the state's constitutional offices. In doing so, he also gained the distinction of becoming one of the first two Black Americans in the nation to be elected to statewide office since the United States' Reconstruction era.

South Los Angeles County voters elected Dymally to the United States House of Representatives in 1980, where he served six two-year terms. During his congressional tenure, he held positions on many committees, including Foreign Affairs, District of Columbia, Science & Technology, and Education & Labor. During the 100th Congress (1987–1989), he served as chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Upon retirement from the House, Dymally spent several years working as a foreign affairs consultant. However, he continued to follow his legislative district closely; in 2002, after a ten year absence from elected office, he expressed his dissatisfaction with the local candidates by running for the state's 52nd State Assembly district. He easily won the primary election, more than doubling the votes of his nearest competitor, and went on to win the seat in the general election, where he served until 2008.

A strong advocate for education, Brother Dymally held degrees from California State University, Los Angeles (B.A., Education, 1954); California State University, Sacramento (M.A., Government, 1969); and Alliant International University (Ph.D., Human Behavior, 1978).