David Dinkins, First Black Mayor of NYC, Dead at 93

Dinkins made history with his win in the 1989 mayoral race. Following his time in office, he taught at Columbia and occasionally consulted with other Democrats.


Image via Getty/Gonzalo Marroquin/Patrick McMullan


David Dinkins, who made history when he won the 1989 mayoral election in New York City, died Monday at the age of 93.

"I intend to be the mayor of all the people of New York," Dinkins, who became NYC's first Black mayor at the time of his election, said when taking office. "This administration will never lead by dividing, by setting some of us against the rest of us or by favoring one group over others."

Following his four years as mayor, which he recounted in his 2013 book A Mayor’s Life: Governing New York's Gorgeous Mosaic while acknowledging the criticism of his handling of the Crown Heights riot of 1991, the New York Timesnotes that Dinkins' post-office life included hosting a show on WLIB and teaching at Columbia University, as well as occasionally fielding consultation requests from other city leaders.

Dinkins was famously mentioned in a verse by the late Phife Dawg in the 1990 A Tribe Called Quest classic "Can I Kick It."

In October, Joyce Burrows—David's wife and the first Black first lady of New York City, whose legacy as a proponent of children's education was widely applauded—died at the age of 90.

Late Monday night and into Tuesday morning, many political leaders and other notable figures paid their respects to the former mayor while remembering the historic importance of his years in office:

We have lost another giant. My thoughts and prayers go out to the Dinkins family as we remember the Mayor’s great legacy in New York. https://t.co/y1BnZdCqcz

— Yvette D. Clarke (@RepYvetteClarke) November 24, 2020

David Dinkins called this city a “gorgeous mosaic.” He lead the crackdown on violence crime, revitalization of Times Square, established “Restaurant Week” and “Fashion Week.”

— Myles Miller (@MylesMill) November 24, 2020

My favorite @ATCQ song includes the lyric: “Mr Dinkins would you please be my mayor?” And he was, and made us New Yorkers so proud. Rest in peace and power to a good and great man. Our mayor: David Dinkins. 🙅🏿‍♀️✊🏿❤️ https://t.co/0mN4nusM0f

— Diana Was Right (@JoyAnnReid) November 24, 2020

As I introduced Bro. Fane to Bro. Rangel, Bro. Mayor #DavidDinkins listened & smiled before dropping gems. A Grand Marshall to the tee!

So kind; So brilliant; So selfless!

THANK YOU Mayor Dinkins.

Rest well good and faithful servant.

You set the example for all of us #RIP 🤙🏿 pic.twitter.com/fmt0QPW2QR

— Michael Blake (@MrMikeBlake) November 24, 2020

I join all New Yorkers in mourning the passing of Mayor David Dinkins.

Sending my prayers to the Dinkins family tonight. Thank you for your service to our city.

Rest In Peace.https://t.co/n7xglI2AaI

— Keith Powers (@KeithPowersNYC) November 24, 2020


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