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Mervyn Malcolm Dymally: The First African American Lt. Governor of California

SACRAMENTO,Ca–Freshman Assemblyman Mervyn Dymally (D- Los Angeles) speaks with a colleague on the floor of the state Assembly after a special session on December 10, 2002. Dymally is a former Assemblyman, Senator and state official.


Mervyn Malcolm Dymally was a politician from Los Angeles, California who served in the California Assembly, the State Senate and as a U.S. Congressman. He is also the first African American Lt. Governor of California.


Dymally was born on the West Indian island of Trinidad on May 12, 1923. After high school, he was a reporter for The Vanguard, the publication of the Oil Workers Trade Union. He left Trinidad at the age of 19 to study Journalism at Lincoln University in Missouri.



Preferring a warmer climate, Dymally left the Midwest and transferred to Chapman College in California and later to Los Angeles State College where he graduated with a B.A. in Education. After college he received his M.A. in Government from California State University in Sacramento and a Ph.D. from the United States International University (now Alliant International University).


After earning his Ph.D., Dymally became a teacher of handicapped students in the Los Angeles Unified School District. He also was a lecturer at several universities including Central State University in Ohio and Charles R. Drew University of Medicine in Los Angeles.

During his teaching career, Dymally joined the Young Democrats organization and rose through the ranks to become the California State Treasurer. When Senator John Kennedy ran for President, in 1960, he made Dymally a Field Coordinator in his campaign.


In 1962, Dymally ran for office for the first time. He campaigned for a seat in the California Assembly and won. In 1966, Dymally became the first African American elected to serve in the State Senate and soon became the Chairman of the Senate Majority Caucus. Dymally made history once again when he became the first African-American Lt. Governor of the state of California in 1974. In 1981, he was elected to the United States Congress where he represented South Los Angeles County.


Written by PH

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