NYC’s first African American mayor, David Dinkins, has died

Elias Hubbard
November 24, 2020

David Dinkins, New York City's first Black mayor, has died, USA media reported late Monday.

He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Dinkins passed away Monday night at his home in New York City of apparent natural causes.

Dinkins was elected as a stabilizing force, and famously described NY as a "gorgeous mosaic", but he struggled to make headway.

Dinkins helped organize and enhance African-American political influence in New York City and state as one of four Harlem-based leaders who began their work in the 1960s.

Dinkins defeated three-term incumbent Edward Koch in the Democratic primary for NY mayor and Republican Rudolph Giuliani in the 1989 election. They were matched against each other again in 1993 - that time, Giuliani won. Dinkins joined with U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel, former Manhattan borough president and broadcasting executive Percy Sutton, and Basil Paterson, a labor lawyer and father of former Governor David Paterson.

"I extend my deepest condolences to the family of Mayor David Dinkins, and to the many New Yorkers who loved and supported him", tweeted former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani. The rioting lasted three days.

Dinkins came under intense criticism for not moving fast enough to stop the violence, but the mayor criticized the NYPD which he felt moved too slowly - intentionally.

After the riots, the focus became reducing crime.

Violent crimes dropped, but Dinkins believed he never got credit for it.

"One would have gotten the impression that on December 31, 1989, there was no crime, and on the next day, when I took office, the homicide rate was over 2,000 a year, as though it had occurred overnight", Dinkins wrote in his 2013 autobiography, "A Mayor's Life". Dinkins went on to win the mayoral race in 1989 by the slimmest margin in history - 47,000 votes and served from 1990-93.

Back in NY with a degree in mathematics, Dinkins married his college sweetheart, Joyce Burrows, in 1953.

David Norman Dinkins was born July 10, 1927, in Trenton, New Jersey.

His dad, a barber and real estate agent and his mom, a domestic worker separated when Dinkins was just six.

During a stint in the Marine Corps as a young man, a Southern bus driver barred him from boarding a segregated bus because the section for blacks was filled.

He searched the northeast until he found a recruiting station that had not.

While attending Howard University, the historically black university in Washington, D.C., Dinkins said he gained admission to segregated movie theatres by wearing a turban and faking a foreign accent.

The passing of the former mayor came less than two months after the death of his wife Joyce Dinkins, who died in October.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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