NYC Desk Report (Channel TT): 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. The department had received a call from Dinkins' residence about an unconscious person having difficulty breathing, according to the New York City Police Department. Current Mayor Bill de Blasio confirmed Dinkins' death to The New York Times.
On Tuesday morning, de Blasio remembered Dinkins on social media as a mentor and friend. Dinkins broke barriers with his 1989 mayoral run, defeating three-term incumbent Ed Koch in the Democratic primary and Republican Rudy Giuliani in the general election by just 47,000 votes, the narrowest electoral margin in New York City history. Giuliani offered his condolences on Twitter, saying Dinkins "gave a great deal of his life in service to our great City. That service is respected and honored by all."
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday also shared a photo of himself with Dinkins on Twitter, writing "NY lost a remarkable civic leader."
"The first and the only Black mayor of NYC, he cherished our "gorgeous mosaic" & served the city & state over a career spanning decades with the hope of unity and a deep kindness," he wrote. "My friend, you will be missed." 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.
Giuliani tweeted Tuesday that Dinkins "gave a great deal of his life in service to our great City" and added, "That service is respected and honored by all." "I extend my deepest condolences to the family of Mayor David Dinkins, and to the many New Yorkers who loved and supported him," the former mayor wrote.
Born on July 10, 1927, in Trenton, New Jersey, Dinkins joined the US Marine Corps as one of the Montford Point Marines, the first Black Americans to serve in the branch, after he graduated from high school, and would later be among the Montford Point Marines who received the Congressional Gold Medal in 2012 for their service. He went on to attend Howard University, where he graduated cum laude with a bachelor's of science degree in mathematics in 1950.
Dinkins received his law degree from Brooklyn Law School in 1956 and practiced law before entering politics. He became a member of the New York State Assembly in 1966 and was president of the New York City Board of Elections from 1972 to 1973.
Beginning his political career as a state assemblyman, Dinkins was elected Manhattan borough president in 1985 before setting his sights on the mayoralty four years later. After leaving the mayor's office in 1994, Dinkins became a professor of public policy at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs.
He also served as a board member for several organizations, including the United States Tennis Association and the Children's Health Fund, and was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., the first Black intercollegiate Greek-lettered fraternity in the US. His wife, Joyce Dinkins, former first lady of New York City, passed away on October 11 at age 89. Dinkins is survived by two children and two grandchildren.