Mervyn Dymally Dies at 86

The history-making Trinidadian-born politician leaves a legacy of dedicated public service.

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Mervyn Dymally

Mervyn Dymally, the history-making California assemblyman, senator and lieutenant governor who also served in Congress for more than a decade, has died at age 86, the Associated Press reports.

Dymally was the state's first foreign-born black assemblyman in 1962, its first black state senator in 1966 and the first and only black lieutenant governor in 1974. In the U.S. Congress, he served as chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus and the House Foreign Affairs Committee, where he championed economic and humanitarian aid for Africa.

Dymally, whose health had been in decline, died Sunday in Los Angeles, his wife Alice Gueno Dymally said in a statement.

"He lived a very extraordinary life and had no regrets," Mrs. Dymally said.

The Trinidad-born Dymally was also a former teacher and union organizer before embarking on a political career in 1963 that lasted more than 40 years. He served in both houses of the state Legislature and in Congress representing Compton and its surrounding area ...

In his final years, the tireless Dymally lead a health institute at the Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science in South Los Angeles. The university's nursing school bears his name.

"His dedication to public service continued when he left politics and his legacy will be long remembered," Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement. He called Dymally "a trailblazer in every sense of the word."

Dymally was born May 12, 1926, in Trinidad. After graduating from high school, he worked as a reporter for The Vanguard, a weekly newspaper published by a labor union.

He came to the United States when he was 19 to attend college and earned a bachelor's degree in education from Los Angeles State College, now Los Angeles State University, in 1954.

He later received a master's degree in government from Sacramento State University and a doctorate in human behavior from United States International University, now Alliant International University, in San Diego.

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