Institute Studies and Educates Politics and Economics Within a Black Contextcsudhbulletin March 7, 2019 0 COMMENTS
By Alex Graf
You might have heard that Angela Davis made an appearance on campus last month, but that wouldn’t have been possible without the Mervyn M. Dymally African American Political and Economic Institute. But what exactly is the Dymally Institute?
To start, it’s important to know just who Mervyn M. Dymally actually was. Dymally (1926-2012) was a prominent Democratic politician from California who served as a state senator, California’s first black lieutenant governor, the first naturalized African Caribbean member of
“The Dymally Institute was started as an unfunded mandate of the state, introduced by Mervyn Dymally in 2002 for the purposes of studying and documenting black leadership and black communities as well as to study public policy and the effects of public policy on those communities,” Dymally Institute Executive Director Dr. Anthony Asadullah Samad said. “Also to train a new generation of leaders through public engagement, forums, workshops, symposiums and those kinds of things.”
The Dymally Institute was originally named the California African American Political & Economic Institute and was signed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger before being renamed in 2013 to honor Dymally after his death.
“Part of our public engagement mission is to not only engage the CSUDH campus community but to engage the larger community on issues that are impacting society,” Samad said. “Our Distinguished Speaker Series brings distinguished scholars to the campus to talk about both historical and current issues.”
Some ways students can get involved with the institute include becoming a student assistant or volunteering for the institute’s programming.
“For the Angela Davis event we had 40 student volunteers,” Samad said. “We’re also planning an International Jazz Festival at the Dignity Sports Park(formerly StubHub) and students will be able to volunteer for that. That is Apr. 27 and it’s tied to International Jazz Day which is Apr. 30.”
Past speakers featured as part of the Distinguished Speaker Series include Karen Bass, a CSUDH alumni and Democratic member of Congress as well as the aforementioned Angela Davis, a dedicated civil rights activist. Samad said the goal of the institute is to have at least two distinguished speakers every academic year with one in the spring and one in the fall.
Samad described the Distinguished Speaker Series as one way for the Dymally Institute to “contribute to the academic force of the campus community,” but said another way the institute does this is through their public policy reports.
“One of the things we’ve done is publish a study on constituency awareness and the importance of constituents being informed,” Samad said. “By researching critical issues we’re able to contribute to the academic discussion and the broader societal discussion as to why we see things in our society like mass homelessness and wealth separation and those types of things.”
Samad said the Institute is currently in the process of planning a Millennial Symposium for March 14th, which will feature speaker Ivory Toldson, an academic and professor of Counseling Psychology at Howard University.
“Millennials basically get together and talk about the world from their perspective, issues that their generation faces… and what type of solutions they see without the old heads being involved in the conversation and talking over them; that kind of thing,” Samad said. “It’s basically preparing them for a life of public engagement. It’s about more than tweeting about the issues. You have to be able to engage the issue to the point where you can either legislate effective public policy or elect leadership that can make the kind of changes you want to see come about.”
Another planned event is a symposium on
Samad said the Dymally Institute also coordinates workshops and hopes to hold workforce training workshops to teach faculty and students how to manage credit and buy homes for the first time.