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David Dinkins, New York City’s first and only Black mayor, dies at 93 years old.
He led the city or, as he called it, the “gorgeous mosaic” from 1990-1993. He beat out Edward Koch in the primary, who held three terms. Dinkins went on to defeat Republican Rudolph Giuliani and became New York City’s 106th mayor.
Dinkins took a calm and charismatic approach to leadership. He was accused, at times, of being too nice to run New York City.
His handling of the crime-ridden city he inherited was scrutinized. He was left handling a city plagued with random violence and race riots. One, in particular, and perhaps the downfall of his career, resulted from the Crown Heights fiasco in 1991.
The Crown Heights riots lasted for three days as New Yorkers protested, killing a 7-year-old black boy, Gavin Cato, who was hit by a car driven by a Jewish man.
In retaliation for the killing, a group of Black youth attacked a Jewish man who had no involvement in the crime. The man later died from his injuries.
The 16-year-old charged in his death was acquitted. Moreover, criminal charges were not filed against the driver of the vehicle that killed Cato. Dinkins was said to have been too slow to respond to the series of events that caused a racial divide between Blacks and Jews.
In 1993, Giuliani ran against Dinkins again and won.
Despite their grievances, the former New York City Mayor extended an olive branch and asked Giuliani to eat dinner with him. Giuliani refused Dinkins’ offer. In Dinkins’s 2013 memoir, he referred to Giuliani as cold and unkind.
After his career in politics, Dinkins later taught at Columbia University. He added radio talk show host to his resume and was periodically sought out by Mayor Bloomberg and other hopefuls looking to hold a government seat.
Dinkins passed away less than 60 days after his wife, Joyce, who died at 89 years old.
Written by Sheree Bynum
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware
The New York Times: David N. Dinkins, New York’s First Black Mayor, Dies at 93
The New York Times: Edward I. Koch, a Mayor as Brash, Shrewd and Colorful as the City He Led, Dies at 88; Robert D. McFadden
Columbia News: Professor and Former New York City Mayor David Dinkins Looks Back…and Forward
Daily News: Crown Heights erupts in three days of race riots after Jewish driver hits and kills Gavin Cato, 7, in 1991; Rich Schapiro and Ginger Adams Otis
Featured Image Courtesy of thenails’ Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of Zella Jones’ Flickr Page- Creative Commons License