Mervyn M. Dymally: The Bridge-Builder of Los Angeles
This exhibition features public educator, California State University, Los Angeles alumni, and politician Mervyn M. Dymally (1926 -2012), a Trinidadian immigrant who became the first Black Lt. Governor of California. Dymally emigrated from Trinidad as a result of the British vestiges of colonialism and imperialism in the Caribbean and abroad, which resulted in his anti-imperialist activism regarding US foreign policy and international relations. Set against the backdrop of the Cold War, state violence, and the build-up of prisons in California, this exhibit highlights Dymally's deep commitment to human rights and advocacy for those who have been “Othered”, in history.
We seek to challenge archival silences of the past by contributing to a landscape that finds value in people who have been erased or devalued by an exclusionary practice that has power over which narratives are told and which stories remain hidden. We seek to make space for lived experiences that enhance the existing rich dialogue about state violence, mass incarceration, educational equity, and human rights in our communities.
Dymally’s role in Los Angeles politics and the larger national landscape is highlighted in this curated collection of letters, documents, and photographs. This project results from an organic collaborative effort between faculty and undergraduate students at Cal State LA, the Education Department at the Autry Museum, and the Los Angeles Regional Reentry Partnership. This exhibition and public-program was made possible with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.