June 8, 2023
NYC News

David Dinkins The First & Only African-American Mayor of NYC Dies At 93

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David Dinkins, who won a historic 1989 victory as the New York City’s first and only black mayor, died Monday died of natural causes at his home, police said. He was 93.

First reported by the New York Post, then it was confirmed by two senior NYPD officials with NBC New York that “Dinkins’s health aide found him unresponsive in his Lenox Hill apartment Monday night, having apparently died of natural causes.”

His historic win was an inspiration to many in the Black Community including New York Attorney General Letitia James who shared;

“The example Mayor David Dinkins set for all of us shines brighter than the most powerful lighthouse imaginable. For decades, Mayor Dinkins lead with compassion and an unparalleled commitment to our communities. His deliberative and graceful demeanor belied his burning passion for challenging the inequalities that plague our society.

“Personally, Mayor Dinkins’ example was an inspiration to me from my first run for city council to my campaigns for public advocate and attorney general. I was honored to have him hold the bible at my inaugurations because I, and others, stand on his shoulders.

“The voice that gave birth to the ‘gorgeous mosaic’ is now at rest. New York will mourn Mayor Dinkins and continue to be moved by his towering legacy.”

David Dinkins also enjoyed a love affair from and inspired many in the Hip-Hop Nation. He was mentioned or referred to by several artists, most notably the late Phife Dawg of A Tribe Called Quest.

“Right now, Phife is a poem sayer / At times, I’m a studio conveyor/ Mr. Dinkins, would you please be my mayor? You’ll be doing us a really big favor,” Malik Taylor, lovingly known as Phife Dawg, the Five Foot Assassin spit on “Can I Kick It?” on A Tribe Called Quest’s debut album, People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm (1990)

Just like the title of third studio album of the Hip-Hop groundbreaking group Public Enemy, this county truly has Fear of a Black Planet. There is a great fear of Black Power. Need an example, you know how they say for every action their is a reaction. Much like the country voted for Donald Trump in 2016 after eight years of Barack Obama, it’s first African-American President, the reaction to Dinkins as NYC first African-American Mayor was elected Trump now favorite mouthpiece and personal lawyer Rudolph Giuliani.

During Rudy Giuliani’s terms as mayor, Amadou Diallo was murdered with 41 shots from gun-crazy cops. While Rudy Giuliani was mayor, Abner Louima was raped with a broomstick by Rudy’s police.

Dinkins defeated former U.S. Atty. Rudolph W. Giuliani in their first faceoff in 1989 by stressing the politics of conciliation in the face of Giuliani’s efforts to turn the election into a referendum on character and competence.

The 62-year-old Manhattan Borough president, who becomes the city’s first black mayor, forged his winning coalition by building on his solid black base. He received virtually all black votes, 21% of all those cast, according to a WNBC-TV/New York Newsday exit poll. He also carried 71% of the Latino vote, 8% of the electorate. The 31% of the white vote he gained was enough to put him over the top.

The election once again underscored the fact that New York was a liberal, Democratic city. Fully 56% of the voters called themselves Democrats, and they cast their ballots 2 to 1 for Dinkins; 35% labeled themselves as liberals and they voted almost 3 to 1 for Dinkins.

“How far we have come since the days when my father was young,” Dinkins told cheering supporters with his father at his side. “This year voters rejected the calls of fear and spoke with voices of hope. Nov. 7, 1989, is a date that will live in history.”

Dinkins turned back Giuliani’s efforts to make campaign into referendum on character in ’89 but Rudy denied Mayor David Dinkins a second term in 1993 when he convinced voters he could bring down historic crime rates in a city.

In a new memoir, the former mayor pulled no punches in “A Mayor’s Life: Governing New York’s Gorgeous Mosaic,” that hit bookshelves the fall of 2013. The city’s first black mayor says he lost his 1993 bid for reelection because of racism.

“When asked why I lost, I used to say, ‘Why do you think?’ ” David Dinkins writes. “I did not want to say it out loud, but it’s time. Now I say, ‘Racism, plain and simple.’ 

Born in 1927 in Trenton, New Jersey, Dinkins served in the Marine Corps shortly after World War II and moved to New York after graduating from Howard University in 1950. Through the next four decades, he would rise in the city’s political sphere, becoming the president of the New York City Board of Elections, the New York City Clerk, and Manhattan borough president before his successful primary of Democratic Mayor and three-term incumbent Ed Koch in 1989. In the general, Dinkins defeated then U.S. Attorney Rudy Giuliani by 47,080 votes to become New York’s 106th mayor in the closest mayoral election in the city’s history.

As mayor, in the midst of a recession, Dinkins made several important achievements, including the initiation of the Times Square clean-up; investing billions of dollars into dilapidated housing in northern Harlem, the South Bronx, and Brooklyn; and signing a 99-year lease with the United States Tennis Association on parkland in Queens which is estimated to generate $750 million annually for the city in direct economic impact.

With the AIDS crisis ballooning and crime rates beginning to dip from their all-time highs, Giuliani challenged Dinkins again in 1993. Criticized for a slow response to the Crown Heights riot — and facing a Republican candidate condemning a civilian commission to investigate allegations of NYPD misconduct — Dinkins lost his reelection bid. After his time in office, he taught at Columbia University and joined the boards of several arts and humanitarian organizations, including the Jazz Foundation of America, the Children’s Health Fund, and the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS. After the police shooting of Amadou Diallo in 1999, he was among 14 protesters arrested outside police headquarters in lower Manhattan.

Dinkins’s wife, the education advocate Joyce Dinkins, passed at home at 89 just over a month ago. The couple had been married for 67 years.

We will miss Mayor David Dinkins, he may be gone but he will never be forgotten. He will always be remembered for his historical victory and his inspiration to us all.

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