NEW YORK – David Dinkins, who was the first African-American mayor in New York City to die, broke down obstacles, but was doomed to a single cycle of soaring murder rates, stubborn unemployment and mismanagement of the riots in Brooklyn. He was 93 years old.
Dinkins died on Monday, the New York Police Department confirmed. The department said the officers were called to the former mayor’s home in the evening. Initially, he died of natural causes.
Dinkins ’death occurred a few weeks after the death of his wife, Joyce, who died in October at the age of 89.
Dinkins, a calm and polite personality who is willing to play tennis and in formal wear, has made a dramatic shift from his predecessor, Ed Koch, and his successor, Rudolph Giuliani – two militant and often abrasive politicians in a world-class city for impatience and rudeness.
In his ceremonial speech, he lovingly spoke of New York as “a wonderful mosaic of racial and religious faith, of national origin and sexual orientation, of people whose families arrived yesterday and generations ago, and who arrived via Ellis Island or Kennedy Airport, or by bus they traveled. for the port authority. “
But the city he inherited also had an ugly side.
AIDS, guns and crack cocaine kill thousands of people every year. Unemployment soared. Homelessness raged. The city faced a budget deficit of $ 1.5 billion.
Dinkins’ restrained, thoughtful approach was quickly conceived as a mistake. Critics say it was too soft and slow.
– Dave, do something! In 1990, in Dinkins ’first year in office, he screamed with one of the headlines in the New York Post.
Dinkins did a lot at City Hall. He raised taxes to employ thousands of police officers. He spent billions of dollars to revive neglected homes. His administration prompted Walt Disney Corp. to invest in cleaning up then-seeded Times Square.
He has received more accolades for these achievements in recent years – Mayor Bill de Blasio said he should always have been. But in October 2015, Blasio, who worked in Dinkins ’administration, named the Manhattan municipal building the former mayor.
“Mayor David Dinkins’ example to all of us shines better than the most powerful lighthouse imaginable, ”said New York Attorney General Letitia James, who herself broke down barriers, as the state’s first black woman to elect the entire country to office.
“It is an honor for me to keep the Bible at my initiation because I and others are on our shoulders,” he said.
However, his results are not fast enough to win Dinkins for a second cycle.
After beating Giulian by only 47,000 votes out of the 1.75 million cast in 1989, Dinkins lost a rematch in 1993 by roughly the same margin.
Political historians often trace the defeat back to Dinkins handling the 1991 Crown Heights riot in Brooklyn.
The violence began after a black 7-year-old boy was accidentally killed by a car in the car of an Orthodox Jewish religious driver. During the three days of subsequent anti-Semitic riots by black youth, a rabbinical student was stabbed to death. Nearly 190 people were injured.
A state report issued in 1993, an election year, cleared Dinkins of the persistently repeated accusation that he had deliberately detained police in the early days of the violence, but criticized him for not taking the lead.
In a 2013 memoir, Dinkins accused police of leaving the confusion out of hand and also taking part in the mistake, on the grounds that “the buck stopped me”. But he bitterly attributed his election defeat to prejudice: “I think it was just racism, pure and simple.”
Born in Trenton, New Jersey, on July 10, 1927, Dinkins moved to Harlem with his mother when his parents divorced but returned to high school in his hometown. There he learned the early lesson of discrimination: blacks could not use the school’s swimming pool.
During troubles as a young man in the Marine Corps, a southern bus driver forbade Dinkins from boarding a segregated bus because the section for blacks was full.
– And I was in my country’s uniform! Dinkins told me years later.
Dinkins, attending Howard University, a historic black university in Washington, said he had been admitted to segregated movie theaters by wearing a turban and falsifying a foreign accent.
With a degree in mathematics in New York, Dinkins married his college sweetheart, Joyce Burrows, in 1953. His father-in-law, the power of local democratic politics, directed Dinkins to a political club in Harlem. Dinkins paid the awards as a democratic functionary while earning a law degree from Brooklyn Law School and then embarking on a private practice.
He was elected to the State Assembly in 1965, became the first black chairman of the city’s Electoral Board in 1972, and served as president of the Manhattan District.
Dinkins ’election as mayor in 1989 was made after two racially accused cases under Koch: the rape of a white jogger in Central Park and the biased murder of a black teenager in Bensonhurst.
Dinkins defeated Koch by 50 to 42 percent in the Democratic pre-election. But in a city where party registration was a 5: 1 Democrat, Dinkins was barely crumpled by Republican Giuliani in the general election, winning only 30 percent of the white vote.
His administration had an early high voice: the newly liberated Nelson Mandela made New York his first stop in the U.S. in 1990. Dinkins has long, openly criticized apartheid in South Africa.
That same year, however, Dinkins was criticized for boycotting black-run, Korean-run grocery stores in Brooklyn. Critics say Dinkins has been waiting too long for intervention. Eventually, he finally crossed the boycott line to shop in the stores – but only after Koch did.
During Dinkins ’tenure, the city’s finances were in a rough state due to the recession that put 357,000 private sector jobs in New York during its first three tenures.
Meanwhile, the city’s homicide has risen to an all-time high, with a record 2,245 homicides in its first year as mayor. Under the Dinkins government, 8,340 New Yorkers have died – the bloodiest four-year period since the New York Police Department began keeping statistics in 1963.
In the final years of its administration, record murders began to decline for decades. In the first year of the Giuliani rule, murders fell from 1946 to 1561.
One of Dinkins ’most recent actions in 1993 was signing an agreement with the U.S. Tennis Association that gave the organization a 99-year lease in Queens in exchange for building a tennis complex. This deal guaranteed that the US Open would stay in New York for decades.
After leaving his office, Dinkins was a professor at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.
He installed a pacemaker in August 2008 and underwent emergency appendectomy in October 2007. He was also hospitalized in March 1992 for a bacterial infection caused by an abscess on the wall of the colon. He was treated with antibiotics and recovered in a week.
Dinkin was left by his son, David Jr.; daughter, Donna; and two grandchildren.