He attended Cedros Government School, the local elementary school, and studied at St. Benedict and the Naparima Schools in San Fernando. After graduation from high school at the age of 19, Dymally went to the United States in search of educational opportunities. He arrived Jefferson City, Missouri, in 1946 and briefly enrolled at Lincoln University; he later dropped out and held several odd jobs. He then moved to Los Angeles, where he attended California State University in Los Angeles and received a bachelor's degree in education in 1954. He received a master's degree in government from California State University in Sacramento in 1969, and a Ph.D. in human behavior from the U.S. International University in San Diego in 1978.
He started Ms professional career as a teacher for gifted and exceptional cliildren in Los Angeles between 1955 and 1961. Moved by the grave racial, social, and economic inequities that afflicted the black people of Los Angeles, Dymally got involved in city politics and was elected to the California State Assembly in 1962.
Dymally built coalitions among the African American community; according to civil rights historian Taylor Branch, Dymally's golden opportunity surfaced when he was able to bridge the scMsm that existed between the Christian and Muslim communities in Los Angeles following a bloody racial incident that had occurred at Muhammad's Temple No. 27 located in South Central Los Angeles on April 27, 1962. After being denied access to an assembly held by local leaders to discuss the aftermath of the incident and the progressive deterioration of relations between African Americans, Muslims, and the police in the city, Dymally was able to get an opportunity to speak and shared the podium with Muslim leader Malcolm X:
"Then he introduced Dymally, whose first words to the crowd the traditional Muslim greeting in Arabic, 'As-Salaamu Alaikum' ('Peace be upon you') produced a sharp breath of surprise and thunderous applause on the swelling inclu-sion of outcasts" (Branch 1998, 12-13). Dymally, an Episcopalian, gained immediate popularity with the large Muslim community. Because of the visibility that he gained at this event, he was able to attract more attention for his political campaign and eventually won in 1962. Throughout his political career he has been commended for his ability to build coalitions within the African American community.
He joined the California State Assembly in 1963. His election to public office marked the first time that a black man born in a foreign country was elected to political office in California. His election not only marked one of many first he attained during his political career, but it also started a long and successful career in California politics. He held his position at the assembly for two terms between 1963 and 1967. In 1967, he ran for the State Senate and won. Once again he was the first black person to become a senator in the state. His major political challenge came when he won the position of lieutenant governor in 1974. His most significant responsibilities during his term as lieutenant governor were chairing the Commission for Economic Development and serving on the Board of Regents of the University of California. Dymally held the position of lieutenant governor until 1979, when he lost the re-election bid. In 1980 he ran for the U.S. Congress, representing the 31st Congressional District of Compton, California. He won and once again started a long career as a legislator in Washington.
During his six terms in the U.S. Congress, Dymally developed a successful legislative platform on behalf of human rights, the balancing of trade inequities between the United States and Africa and the Caribbean, and the improvement of educational opportunities for children of color. He became known as one of the most powerful black members of congress and served as Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus between 1987 and 1989. He also served as a member of the District of Columbia Committee and the Post Office and Civil Service Committees. His most important appointment, however, was as a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, where he chaired the Africa Subcommittee. He used this position for an extensive campaign to create awareness about the many social, political, and economic illnesses affecting African nations as a result of of-ten-misguided American policies. He also supported more humanitarian aid for Africa. Dymally was instrumental in creating awareness in Congress about the Apartheid regime in South Africa.
Despite his many accomplishments in Congress, his tenure was at times controversial. During the 1980s and early 1990s Dymally was investigated several times on charges of taking improper contributions from political constituencies. None of the allegations was ever proven (Griego 1992). He retired in 1992.
Dymally has stayed active in American politics. He launched the Dymally International Group, a lobbying firm representing mostly African nations in Washington. Although he has been sharply criticized for the making substantial amounts of income representing governments such as Mauritius and Sudan, Dymally has successfully defended himself by saying that African countries need a substantial level of access to the political establishment in Washington.
Throughout his public career, Dymally has taught at many colleges and universities in California, such as the University of California at Irvine, Pomona College, and Golden Gate University. In August of 2000, the speaker of the California State Assembly appointed Dymally as the liaison between the Assembly and the state's community colleges. Throughout his political life he has been credited with helping many African Americans to pursue and gain elective political office.
Member Los Angeles County Water Appeals Board. Advisor to California Assembly Speaker for Community Congress. Chairman California Black Leadership Roundtable, Caribbean American Coalition.
Chair select committee community colleges Professor Charles Drew University Medicine & Science, since 2009. Member California Assembly, 2003-2008. Member American Association of University Professors, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, American Academy Political Science, American Political Science Association, American Academy Political and Social Science, American Civil Liberties Union, Urban League, Phi Kappa Phi, Kappa Alpha Psi.
Married Alice M. Gueno. Children: Mark, Lynn.