David Dinkins was the stuff of political legend in New York’s Harlem. From 1990 to 1993, Dinkins served as the 106th Mayor of the largest city in America — New York. Dinkins was a historic figure as the first African American to hold the office. He often referred to the city as “a gorgeous mosaic.”
Dinkins was part of Harlem’s Democratic Party machine that dominated politics from the late 60s and into the 1990s. He was part of a power base that was made up of businessman Percy Sutton, New York State Assemblyman Herman “Denny” Farrell, attorney Basil Paterson, and Congressman Charles Rangel.
Dinkins won an Assembly seat, was appointed City Clerk and served as Manhattan Borough President before being elected Mayor of New York. Dinkins was one of fifty Black investors who helped Percy Sutton found Inner City Broadcasting Corporation in 1971. Sutton also invested in The Amsterdam News.
Dinkins was viewed as a compromise candidate during a time of turmoil in New York. Elected a year after the infamous 1989 “Central Park jogger” incident that led to the wrongful convictions of five Black and Hispanic boys, Dinkins proved to be a cautious and stoic figure who was a competent caretaker of the city, including its many fiscal, social and political challenges. Dinkins’ administration followed that of one of New York City’s most storied politicians, Ed Koch.
Following violence in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn that many believed was not handled well by Dinkins, he lost his bid for re-election.
Dinkins was a member of the 20,000 strong Montford Point Marines and served in the Marines from 1945–1946. In 1956 he earned a law degree from Brooklyn Law School. He graduated cum laude from Howard University.
On the night of November 23rd, David Dinkins succumbed to natural causes at his home on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. His death follows the recent passing of his wife Joyce, who died at their home on October 12th. Joyce Dinkins was 89.
The former Mayor is survived by their two children, David N. Dinkins Jr. and Donna Dinkins Hoggard.