Pioneers of Diversity in Criminal Justice Professions
Mervyn Malcolm Dymally was the first person from the Trinidian descent to serve as a state senator and Lieutenant Governor in California. Dymally was also among the first people from the African Indian descent to serve in the American Congress (Yardley, 2012). Born on 12th May 1926, Dymally was among the first three African American to serve in various categories as a politician. At the age of 19, Dymally moved from Trinidad to United States where he broke barriers as a legislator in California (Congressional, 1999).
In his tenure, Dymally worked as a field coordinator for President John F Kennedy before being elected in the California State Assembly in 1963. He managed to visit more than twenty African countries in his first year as the chairperson of the Subcommittee on Africa (Young, 1992). He tirelessly worked to raise awareness of the quandary of Africans and control the nation’s assistance level to the Caribbean nations. He fought for humanitarian rights for fellow African American in the judicial system. As a member of the legislator, Dymally was an outspoken advocate for African and Caribbean rights and economic developments. He took the fight for justice for his people as his obligation and contributed significantly to distribution of taxpayers’ money in his region. In his political tenure, Dymally never shied away from concerns regarding race and black issues. He was outspoken on issues regarding South African Apartheid and advocated for sanctions against the minority-white government. Not only was he an advocate for the Haitian immigrants, Dymally fought for the rights of the Russian Jews in the Soviet Union and Palestinians in Gaza strip.
Dymally faced various challenges in his career and quest to fight for his people. As an African American with an Indian background, Dymally acquired resistance in his bid to serve in the American Congress. As a politician, he was perceived as a critic of the government and the department of Justice than an advocate of the poor and disadvantaged people. In his reelection as Lt Governor, Dymally’s bid was derailed by false rumor that he was to be indicted. The Justice Department had failed to confirm the authenticity of the rumors before releasing the report to a television reporter who made him lose to the Republican competitor. Even though he fought for the rights of his people, he was perceived to be more critical with overseas issues more than problems of his people in Los Angeles.
Playing similar role today, Dymally would have received more attention as an advocate for the plight of the African Americans (Young, 1992). This is because of the popularity in the face of media attention he had acquired in his former positions. However, he would still face more challenges in the fight for racial equality. This is because people of color continue to be unreasonably imprisoned, and sentenced to death at higher rates than the whites in addition to racial variation in the criminal justice system continues to threaten African Americans. These disenfranchises majority of them by limiting their voting rights and denying them equal access to housing, employment and public benefits such as education. In the present day therefore, Dymally would be overwhelmed by the plight of his people in California alone. As an advocate Dymally would have pressing issues to focus on related to civil rights concerns in the 21st century. Among them would add up to high imprisonment rates of the African Americans and Hispanics, racial profiling and police force encounters. Present challenges Dymally would face would involve juvenile incarceration among the youths. He would have to balance between raising awareness on the issue of drug abuse and fight for the African American youths engaged in drugs. This is because majority of the drug users arrested are of African American descent. Economically, he would still fight for gender equality in employment and disparity in wage trajectory for the colored people.
Congressional Record. (1999). Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions. 106th
Congress, 1st Session. Vol. 145. No 153.
Yardley, W. Mervyn M. D., who Broke Racial Barriers in California, Dies at 86. The New
York Times. 2012, 9th October.
Young, S. A. “An Interview With Dymally,” 29 January 1992, Los Angeles Sentinel: 7.