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David Dinkins, New York City's 1st Black Mayor, Dies At 93

David Dinkins delivers his first speech as mayor of New York in 1990. Dinkins, New York City's first Black mayor, died Monday at 93.
Frankie Ziths
/
AP
David Dinkins delivers his first speech as mayor of New York in 1990. Dinkins, New York City's first Black mayor, died Monday at 93.

Updated at 2:20 a.m. ET

David Dinkins, New York City's only African American mayor, died Monday night at 93.

Dinkins led New York in the early 1990s as its mayor, a position he called "the greatest job there is."

Dinkins' office operations manager, Lynda Hamilton, confirmed his death to NPR early Tuesday.

Dinkins broke barriers with his 1989 election, managing to defeat three-term incumbent Ed Koch during the Democratic primary that year and later to best Republican Rudy Giuliani in the general election. Giuliani would go on to defeat Dinkins for the position four years later.

Early Tuesday, Giuliani expressed his condolences on Twitter, saying of Dinkins, "He gave a great deal of his life in service to our great City. That service is respected and honored by all."

Dinkins' tenure came at a contentious time for a city that was plagued by economic woes, crime and racial tension. Many criticized his handling of those tensions in some of the city's neighborhoods and, particularly, with a slow response to the 1991 Crown Heights, Brooklyn, riots.

In an interview with NPR in 2013 following the release of his book, A Mayor's Life: Governing New York's Gorgeous Mosaic, Dinkins expressed deep love for the city.

"I think it's the greatest town in the world," he said, adding that he thought the passage of time would put a new light on his legacy.

"I'm confident that when people look back ... 20, 30 years, they might say, 'Oh, gee, you know? Those guys did a pretty good job,'" he said.

Dinkins was a graduate of Howard University and Brooklyn Law School. After his political career, he was a professor at Columbia University.

His death comes just a little more than a month after his wife, Joyce Burrows Dinkins, died at the age of 89.

NPR's Hansi Lo Wang contributed to this report.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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