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Cedros residents endeavour to preserve Dymally’s legend
A memorial service for Mervyn Dymally, the T&T-born US Congressman, will be held today from 12.30 pm at Holy Cross Mortuary, Culver City, California. After the service, expected to be attended by leading members of the California political establishment, the veteran politician will be laid to rest in his adopted homeland. He is still fondly remembered in Cedros where he was born.
A silent reminder is the Dymally Building and while its white and red lined walls may not make it an architectural wonder, it holds great significance for residents of the rural community. It was the home of Cedros-born Dymally, 86, the first black man in the United States to serve in the California Senate and as the state's lieutenant governor. He died two Sundays ago in Los Angeles after a period of illness.
At the age of 19 Dymally left Cedros to go to California to live but he often would return to his hometown. His death came as a shock to many residents. They are calling for Dymally to receive national recognition for his achievements. Residents also want Dymally Building, which is up for sale, to be preserved as a monument to the man they have dubbed The Pride of Cedros.
The T&T Guardian recently visited Cedros and spoke to residents about Dymally. They described him as an inspiration. Residents said the building served as a reminder that where you came from did not dictate whom you could become. Ernest James, 75, of Bonasse Village, said even though Dymally left Cedros years ago, he never forgot where he came from.
“He raised the name of Cedros. He always mentioned he was from Cedros. He never forgot his roots. He should be honoured and recognised ‘cause it was not a small thing to be a US congressmen. He was the pride of Cedros. He will be missed,” James said.
Anton Sebastien, manager of Avani Co Ltd, said: “It makes you feel good that somebody from Cedros represented the country at that level. It makes you proud. People should recognise him. I think it (Dymally Building) should be preserved as museum. It would be good for Cedros.”
The People’s National Movement (PNM) Point Fortin/Cedros constituency office occupies the upper floor of the Dymally Building and the ground floor is vacant. The concrete structure has a wooden floor that has started to rot. Constituency office manager Denise Joseph said the Dymally family is selling the building but she believes it should be retained as a part of Cedros’ history.
“This is a famous site, Dymally Building. Anytime you think Dymally Building, you think Cedros. I would think this building should be preserved as a historical site,” Joseph said. Junior Bharath, 62, of Los Gallos village, said he met Dymally once and he was “nice and cool. He was very understanding. He was a nice guy,” he added. Bharath said Dymally made Cedros famous. “I feel that (what he did) was a great achievement,” he said.
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