David N. Dinkins, New York City’s first and only Black mayor, has died at age 93.
Police received a call to the former mayor’s Upper East Side home in Manhattan for an unconscious person having difficulty breathing. Dinkins passed away from natural causes around 9:30 p.m.
Dinkins was a lawyer, an author, a trailblazer, and he served as the city’s 106th mayor.
Dinkins was a part of a new wave of Black leadership that came to life during the 1960s and ’70s as Harlem became the epicenter of political influence.
His political history began when he ran as Manhattan Borough President in 1981. He went on to run as mayor where he first rivaled Edward Koch, who had served as mayor for 12 years and, later, Rudolph Guiliani.
When voted into office in 1990, Dinkins worked towards reducing the city’s homeless population, he helped revitalize 42nd Street-Times Square and low-income housing and even added thousands of police officers to the NYPD to help combat the dramatic spike in crime.
While Dinkins also brought in more officers to the NYPD, he and the city council co-created in 1993 the Civilian Complaint Review Board, an agency that serves as a watchdog over the county’s largest police department. It stands as the largest oversight agency in the country and has investigated tens of thousands of complaints of police misconduct.
He was even famously referenced in the Queens-based hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest’s track “Can I Kick It?”
The former mayor, who often wore colorful bowties, once called New York City a “gorgeous mosaic” of race, religious faith, national origin and sexual orientation.
Dinkins served as mayor until 1993, when he was defeated by Republican opponent Rudy Guiliani during his second run.
“The people have spoken,” Dinkins said to an audience after Guiliani was announced the victor.
“You see, my friends, elections come and go. Candidates come and go. Mayors come and go,” he said to his supporters. “But the life of the city must endure.”
A little over a month ago, his wife, Joyce, died at their home, the New York Post reported. He is survived by his two children and two grandchildren.