Dymally’s Legacy Lives On

Mervyn M. Dymally, the Trinidad-born former Congressman who broke race barriers as a legislator in California and in Congress, was honored posthumously at Charles R. Drew University with a bronze memorial sculpted in his image.

A true pioneer, Dymally, who died in 2012, was the first Trinidadian to serve California as State Senator and as Lieutenant Governor. He was one of the first U.S. Congressmen of African and Indian origin. Dymally was also one of three African-Americans ever to hold statewide office in California.

Among his most noted and successful efforts was his tireless work on to see that Japanese Americans who were interned during World War II receive reparations.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who attended the sculpture’s unveiling, said Dymally was “a character, a charmer, a generous teacher and one of the hardest working elected officials I’ve ever met.”

The bronze bust by internationally acclaimed artist and sculptor Nijel Binns, has been 10 years in the making. Binns is best known for his 16-foot bronze “Mother of Humanity” sculpture of an African woman standing on the globe and holding a feather of peace located at the Watts Labor Community Action Committee.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas credited Dymally with being the first major political figure to help launch his career into elected office in 1991.

“Merv’s legacy lives on not just in his legislative career,” said the supervisor, “but in the legions of people across all ethnicities, he mentored.”