David Dinkins, first Black mayor of NYC, dies at 93

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David Dinkins

FILE – In this Monday, Jan. 2, 1990, file photo, David Dinkins delivers his first speech as mayor of New York, in New York. Dinkins, New York City’s first African-American mayor, died Monday, Nov. 23, 2020. He was 93.

NEW YORK — David Dinkins, the first Black mayor of New York City, died Monday at the age of 93.

Dinkins was elected in 1989 and served as mayor from 1990 to 1993, making him the first Black man to serve as the city’s mayor.

He was born in 1927 in Trenton, New Jersey. He was drafted and served as U.S. Marine and later graduated from Howard University and Brooklyn Law School. He served in the state assembly, as president of the board of elections, as city clerk and as Manhattan borough president before becoming mayor.

Dinkins defeated longtime incumbent Mayor Ed Koch in the Democratic primary in 1989, and later beat Rudy Giuliani on his path to City Hall.

In his inaugural address, he vowed to be “mayor of all the people of New York,” and declared “We are all foot soldiers on the march to freedom.”

Dinkins was known for his reserved public demeanor and civility.

He was an American voice in favor of anti-apartheid sanctions and his policies as mayor reflected his support for South Africa.

He also created the office of Special Commissioner of Investigations for schools, built a system of after hour youth centers called Beacon Schools, and worked to create an all civilian police complaint review board.

According to a city biography, Dinkins was sharply criticized for his handling of racial strife in Crown Heights, a boycott of Korean Grocers in Brooklyn and civil unrest in Washington Heights. He also dealt with sluggish economic growth.

Giuliani succeeded Dinkins in 1993 after one term in office.

After leaving City Hall, Dinkins remained active in city politics and taught public affairs at Columbia University.

The NYPD said initial indications were that he died of natural causes.

Dinkins was married to his wife Joyce for more than 65 years, and together they had two children.

Joyce Dinkins died in October. She was 89.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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