Former New York City Mayor David Dinkins dead at 93

The former mayor died just over a month after his wife, Joyce Dinkins, passed away at 89.

David Dinkins, who served as New York City's first and only Black mayor during the 1990s, has died at 93.

Dinkins' health aide found him unresponsive in his Lenox Hill apartment Monday night, the New York Post reported. The NYPD confirmed the report.

He died just over a month after his wife, Joyce Dinkins, passed away at 89.

"I extend my deepest condolences to the family of Mayor David Dinkins, and to the many New Yorkers who loved and supported him," tweeted former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani. "He gave a great deal of his life in service to our great City. That service is respected and honored by all."

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The paper reported that Dinkins defeated Ed Koch, the three-term incumbent, in the 1989 Democratic primary and beat Rudy Giuliani that same year to become the city’s 106th mayor.

During his inaugural address, he described New York City as a “gorgeous mosaic of race and religious faith, of national origin and sexual orientation, of individuals whose families arrived yesterday and generations ago, coming through Ellis Island or Kennedy Airport or on buses bound for the Port Authority.”

New York City Mayor David Dinkins, center, is seen at a reception for the Tel Aviv Foundation in New York on Oct. 23, 1993. (AP Photo/David Karp, File)

New York City Mayor David Dinkins, center, is seen at a reception for the Tel Aviv Foundation in New York on Oct. 23, 1993. (AP Photo/David Karp, File) (The Associated Press)

Dinkins, however, was doomed to a single term due to a soaring murder rate, stubborn unemployment, and his mishandling of a race riot in Brooklyn. He narrowly lost a rematch against Giuliani in 1993.

While some criticized him for being slow to react, Dinkins did much during his time at City Hall, reports said. He raised taxes to hire thousands of police officers and spent billions of dollars revitalizing neglected housing. His administration also got the Walt Disney Corp. to invest in the cleanup of then-seedy Times Square.

While the city’s murder toll soared to an all-time high, with a record 2,245 homicides during his first year as mayor, his last years saw homicides begin to decline, which continued for decades.

Under Dinkins, Nelson Mandela made New York City his first stop in the U.S. in 1990, which was seen as an early highlight during his time as mayor.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, who worked in Dinkins’ administration, named Manhattan’s Municipal Building after the former mayor in 2015.

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“David was a historic mayor. He showed that a black candidate can win biracial support in a city-wide race,” said former Gov. David Paterson, according to the paper. 

Arguably his biggest blunder was his handling of the Crown Heights riots in Brooklyn in 1991, which saw violence in the city after a 7-year-old boy was accidentally killed by a car in the motorcade of an Orthodox Jewish religious leader.

A state report issued in 1993 cleared Dinkins of the notion that he intentionally held back police in the first days of the violence, but criticized him for not stepping up as a leader.

Dinkins was born in 1927 in Trenton, New Jersey. He moved with his mother to Harlem when his parents divorced, but returned to his hometown to attend high school. There, he learned that Blacks were not allowed to use the school swimming pool.

Later, during a hitch in the Marine Corps as a young man, a Southern bus driver barred him from boarding a segregated bus because the section for blacks was filled.

“And I was in my country’s uniform!” Dinkins recounted years later.

He later attended Howard University and Brooklyn Law School.

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Dinkins is survived by his son, David Jr.; and daughter, Donna, and two grandchildren.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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