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Mervyn Dymally, CA's First Black Lt. Gov. Remembered

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Dymally, 'Godfather of African American Politics'

BVN Staff Report

Former California Lieutenant Governor and first Black to serve in this position, Mervyn M. Dymally affectionately referred to as the “Godfather of African- American politics”, passed away Sunday in Los Angeles, Calif. He was 86.

Dymal ly’s wife, Alice Gueno Dymally who recently lost her mother Alice Walker Gueno said in a statement, “My beloved husband of 44-years Mervyn Dymally passed away very peacefully this morning at 6:30 a.m. He lived a very extraordinary life and had no regrets.”

Dymally in his career accomplished many firsts. He was the nation’s first Black Lieutenant Governor, first Black California State Senator and was a pioneer member of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Upon hearing of the passing of Dymally, his former colleagues, government officials, and contemporaries paid tribute to Dymally in issued statements.

Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. stated: "Mervyn Dymally was an extraordinary man who spent his life breaking new ground and advancing the cause of civil rights and equality. He was both a thinker and a doer, bearing deep knowledge but never hesitating to take action where action was warranted. California has lost an important leader."

California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris issued the following statement on the passing of Mervyn Dymally: "I am tremendously saddened to hear of the passing of my friend, former Congressman and Lieutenant Governor Mervyn Dymally.

Representative Dymally was a true role model for generations of Californians, not least because of his barrier-breaking legacy as one of the first persons of color to serve at the state and federal levels of our great nation. His lifelong commitment to justice during his time in Congress, the state legislature and the Lieutenant Governorship of California will continue to inspire us as we work to further the vision of equality that he championed for more than five decades. My prayers are with his wife, Alice, daughter Lynn and son Mark during this difficult time."

Assembly Member Wilmer Amina Carter stated, “How can you comment on someone who is bigger than life? I was introduced to him during our long relationship with the late Congressman George Brown and continued my relationship through my tenure in the Assembly. He was an amazing man. You know a person by the way he treats his wife and he treated his wife with love, respect and honor. We will truly miss his leadership in our state.”

Candidate for the 47th Assembly District, Cheryl Brown stated: “He is the consummate statesman, always the political teacher who never stopped giving back to the state and the country. My family has been supporters of Mr. Dymally his entire political career.

My mother knew him well and when I announced my candidacy for the Assembly, Mr. Dymally gave me council and sent more than one contribution. I will miss him as the campaign moves forward. He was always there to give advice.”

Congresswoman Janice Hahn released the following statement: “Mervyn Dymally was an icon, a legend, and one of the most loved and revered leaders in all of California. He was a fierce advocate for his constituents as a State Legislator, member of Congress, and as California’s 41st Lieutenant Governor. He was a man of strong principles and values. We will always be grateful for his leadership in the building of MLK Hospital in Watts. He’s always been a mentor and a friend. Mervyn will surely be missed.”

Assemblymember Isadore Hall in a statement said, "For decades, Mervyn Dymally served California with an unwavering passion and commitment. Merv’s legacy helped open the doors of opportunity for his and future generations and his spirit will live on in the l ives of the many leaders he inspired. Our state and country are a better place because of his lifetime of work. I am honored to have called him my friend and mentor. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

In honoring the memory of former Lieutenant Dymally, Speaker John A. Pérez stated, “I was deeply saddened to learn former Lieutenant Governor Merv Dymally passed away. He was an iconic figure in California politics, whose public service spanned nearly six decades in the Legislature, House of Representatives and as Lieutenant Governor of California.

Throughout his time in office, he commanded respect on both sides of the aisle, and was a thoughtful and passionate advocate for the men and women he represented and for the poorest and most vulnerable Californians. He will be greatly missed by all those who had the pleasure of knowing him.”

Mervyn Malcolm Dymally was born May 12, 1926 in Cedros, Trinidad and Tobago and served in the California State Assembly from 1963 to 1966, California State Senate from 1967 to 1975, and as the 41st Lieutenant Governor of California from 1975 to 1979.

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.

Mr. Dymally then successfully ran for the U.S. House of Representatives and served from 1981 to 1993. 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. After a 10-year retirement, he returned to politics to serve in the California State Assembly from 2002 to 2008. He is considered the Godfather of African-American politicians in the state of California.

Dymally is survived by his daughter Lynn and son Mark, as wel l as his wife Alice Gueno Dymally and three sisters.

Funeral services and viewing will be held Wednesday, October 17, 2012 with the viewing between 9:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. followed by services at 12:30 at the Holy Cross Mortuary, 5835 West Slauson Avenue, Culver City, CA.

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