Dinkins was elected into office in 1989 after defeating Ed Koch, who served three terms prior, in the Democratic primary. He would go on to beat Republican opponent Rudy Giuliani and officially become the 106th mayor of the Big Apple. Dinkins would only serve one term before being defeated by Giuliani in the next election season.
The former politician’s run in office was often met with negativity and racist backlash in a time where much racial unrest was prevalent. But, he always kept his composure and served with dignity. Dinkins was even called a “gorgeous mosaic.”
Per news publications, he passed away tonight in his Upper East side apartment at around 9:30 p.m. ET. “David was a historic mayor. He showed that a Black candidate can win biracial support in a city-wide race,” former Gov. David Paterson, who served as the first African-American governor of New York City, told the Post. “There’s a special appreciation for him. He tried very hard to be the mayor of all the people.”
Al Sharpton continued: “David Dinkins was a forerunner to Barack Obama. He was elected saying the same things. He helped to change the psychology of American politics, making it more inclusive and more progressive.”
The civil right activist would add, “He was almost too nice to be mayor of New York.”
“He maintained dignity, class and gentlemanly-ness so rare in today’s world,” continued Ken Sunshine, Dinkins’ former first chief of staff.
Dinkins was born in Trenton, N.J. on July 10, 1927. He and his family would later move to Harlem before he returned to his birthplace to attended high school. The history-making politician would enroll in Howard University before entering the United States Marine Corps and serving in World War II.
Dinkins would later return to Howard after his military service ended to graduate from the prestigious HBCU with honors and a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. Next, he would obtain his law degree from Brooklyn Law School in 1956.
After graduation, his political career took off — and the rest would be history.
His wife, Joyce, who he met at Howard, passed away five weeks ago.