Tue 24 Nov, 2020 09:54 am
David Norman Dinkins, the genteel first and, to date, only Black mayor of New York City
who dedicated much of his public life trying to improve race relations in the nation's
largest city, has died at age 93.
Dinkins died Monday evening at his residence on Manhattan's Upper East Side in Manhattan,
the New York City Police Department told CNN.
Speaking frequently of what he called New York's "gorgeous mosaic" of racial, ethnic and
religious diversity, Dinkins championed economic equality and education for people of color,
and offered the city a calming alternative to the brash leadership of Ed Koch, whose tenure
in office was often marked by strained race relations.
But high crime, a national recession and several episodes of racial conflict largely defined
Dinkins' mayoralty in the early 1990s. Although it was under his leadership that the New York
Police Department underwent a major expansion that would be credited with playing a
significant role in driving down crime, he was ousted from office in 1993 in a close race by
his political nemesis, Rudy Giuliani, who successfully painted Dinkins as an ineffectual leader
unable to tame the city's high crime.
Dinkins was a genuine trailblazer in New York City history. As a member of the "Gang of Four"
-- an informal group that included longtime US Rep. Charles Rangel, the civil rights attorney
Percy Sutton and Basil Paterson, New York's first Black secretary of state -- he was part of a new
wave of Black leadership that came to prominence in the 1960s and '70s and greatly increased
Harlem's political influence in the city. When Dinkins denied Koch's bid for a fourth term in the
1989 Democratic primary and narrowly edged out Giuliani in the general election, he became
the city's 106th mayor and its first one of color.
I remember Dinkins fondly. Rest In Peace.