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David Dinkins Remembered as ‘The People’s Mayor’

Mayor David Dinkins.

New York, NY  – Former Mayor David Dinkins (1990-1993) died at the age of 93 on Monday, just over a month after the passing of his beloved wife Joyce Dinkins, whom he first met at Howard University in 1953. The couple married later that same year. 

Dinkins was the first Black mayor of New York City. While his tenure was short and did not bring the racial reconciliation that he hoped, his anticrime and economic programs continue to shape the Big Apple today. 

“We are sad for the passing of a great man, Mayor David Dinkins,” said Kyle Bragg, president of 32BJ SEIU. “The city’s first Black Mayor broke new ground during an extraordinarily difficult time for the city. Mayor Dinkins was a steadfast champion for the poor and made an unwavering commitment to equality. ”

During Dinkins’ tenure, the crime wave in New York dropped, and he ushered in significant events like Broadway on Broadway, Fashion Week and Restaurant Week to the city that never sleeps. 

Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg considered Dinkins’ 99-year deal to keep the U.S. Open in Flushing, Queens, the single-most-important stadium deal, not just in New York, but in the country. The U.S. Open generates more revenue for the city than its hockey, basketball and both of its baseball teams combined. 

Shaun D. Francois, I, president of DC37 and Local 372, called Dinkins a “pioneer in his own right.”

“He made history by being thus far the only Black Mayor for NYC,” Francois said. “I am specially happy because my son happened to be born on the same day and year [David Dinkins] became Mayor of the City Of New York.”

Under Dinkins, according to Bragg, children had access to better education and Black and brown communities had more affordable housing and expanded access to health care.

“The strength of Mayor Dinkins’ character was present in everything he did to realize the city’s ‘gorgeous mosaic,'” added Bragg. “He showed grace and unwavering decency in the face of the intense racism he encountered from many of his detractors. History has proven Mayor Dinkins’ vision for New York City was aspirational and, sadly, ahead of its time.”

Unfortunately, there was a lack of financial revenue from taxes for the city because of tax policies that held over from the Reagan era into the President George H.W. Bush era, that resulted in a recession nationwide during Dinkins’ time as mayor.

PBA President Patrick J. Lynch, however, called Mayor Dinkins’ “Safe Streets, Safe City” initiative the beginning of “New York City’s renaissance.”

“His bold plan succeeded because he worked with – not against – the PBA, Albany & the City Council,” Lynch said. “Together, we started to reclaim our streets from violence & chaos. That contribution alone secured his legacy. Today, we honor that legacy, pray for his family, and pray that present and future leaders will be inspired by his example.”

Despite crime being at an all-time low by 1993, it did not decline fast enough for Dinkins to secure reelection. But his work to help the mentally ill, poor, minorities and the working class citizens were not in vain. 

“New York has lost a dedicated public servant and political pioneer,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew said. “As mayor and as a private citizen, he fought on behalf of the city’s schoolchildren. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during the difficult time.” 

1199SEIU President George Gresham wished Dinkins a peaceful rest and was proud of his union’s efforts to help him in his historic mayoral win in 1989.

“Our hearts are heavy today as we mourn the passing of David Dinkins, a great friend to our union, a lion of New York City civic life, and our city’s first Black mayor,” Gresham said. “Born in New Jersey, Mayor Dinkins devoted his life to his adopted hometown…1199SEIU is proud to have helped Mayor Dinkins win his historic 1989 election and proud to have stood with him through the challenges that faced him as mayor. David Dinkins made New York City better and was truly an example of the potential he believed in for us all. The 450,000 members of 1199 are grateful to share in his legacy of a more inclusive and just society.”

New York City, Bragg said, owes Mayor David Dinkins a debt of gratitude.

“Above all, Mayor Dinkins will be remembered as the people’s Mayor,” the 32BJ SEIU president said.

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