‘New York City lost an icon’: Elected officials react to death of first Black mayor David Dinkins

Former Mayor David Dinkins at a ceremony for Judge William Thompson, with former Comptroller Bill Thompson at Brooklyn Borough Hall on Jan. 18, 2019.
Photo by Todd Maisel

New York City’s first Black mayor David Dinkins passed away at the age of 93. 

It was reported that Dinkins was found in his apartment unconscious and unresponsive on Nov. 23 by home health aides. He is said to have died of natural causes.

Elected officials expressed their condolences mourning the loss of the former mayor.

“The example Mayor David Dinkins set for all of us shines brighter than the most powerful lighthouse imaginable. For decades, Mayor Dinkins lead with compassion and an unparalleled commitment to our communities. His deliberative and graceful demeanor belied his burning passion for challenging the inequalities that plague our society,” said New York State Attorney General Letitia James. “Personally, Mayor Dinkins’ example was an inspiration to me from my first run for city council to my campaigns for public advocate and attorney general. I was honored to have him hold the bible at my inaugurations because I, and others, stand on his shoulders. The voice that gave birth to the ‘gorgeous mosaic’ is now at rest. New York will mourn Mayor Dinkins and continue to be moved by his towering legacy.”

“Losing Mayor Dinkins now, just weeks after his beloved wife Joyce, is a solemn moment of sorrow for our city,” said Public Advocate Jumaane Williams. “We owe him not only a debt of gratitude, but a commitment to try and realize his vision for what the gorgeous mosaic of New York City can be – uplifting each piece, and recognizing that it is at its strongest and most beautiful when the pieces are brought together, as was Mayor Dinkins’ mission. His passing leaves a gap in that mosaic as New York feels a historic loss.”

New York City has lost a great champion for people of color and a historic leader for a more inclusive city. Mayor Dinkins was not just the first Black mayor; he was not just a symbol,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. “Through his actions on behalf of lower-income people, he was both our effective advocate and confirmation of a long-held hope that our lives mattered to our government. May we all follow in his large footsteps and add our bright stitch to the gorgeous mosaic of New York City that he so loved.

“New York City has lost a hero with a big heart with the passing of Mayor David Dinkins. He cared so deeply about everyone in and every aspect of this great City, reflecting his deeply felt humanity and humility,” said Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. “He was a great friend and teacher, who never pulled a punch when giving advice. I will miss him terribly, as will all New Yorkers and so many throughout the world.”

“Yesterday, New York City lost an icon. Mayor David Dinkins was a kind and empathetic man who led New York City during difficult times. I am proud to have known him and worked with him on important initiatives for our ‘gorgeous mosaic’ of a city,” said Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. “The countless programs he helped start and the lives he shaped will undoubtedly be felt throughout New York City for generations to come.”

“New York City has lost a pillar and a patriot. With quiet dignity but lion-hearted love for his city, Mayor David Dinkins led us through one of the most challenging chapters in our history. To say he will be missed is an understatement: in a modern political discourse increasingly dominated by sharp words and loud bravado, Mayor Dinkins stood apart in his unwavering civility. Few stood taller,” said New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer. “Mayor Dinkins blazed a trail to City Hall and made history several times over as the first Black man to hold our city’s highest office. He invested in communities that had been overlooked for too long and made mental health a priority for his Administration. In many ways, he was ahead of his time.”

“Today, I join millions of New Yorkers in mourning the remarkable life of former New York City Mayor David Dinkins,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “A steadfast champion for the poor, Mayor Dinkins broke barriers as New York City’s first Black mayor and his unwavering belief in human rights and the need for equality will continue to serve as a shining example for us all. Mayor Dinkins will be deeply missed and my prayers are with his family and friends.”

In addition to serving as the city’s mayor, Dinkins was one of the founders of One Hundred Black Men, a nonprofit that aims to achieve meaningful gains in Black communities. One Hundred Black Men announced that they will honor Dinkins’ legacy at their annual Founders’ Day and Pinning Ceremony on Dec. 10.

“One Hundred Black Men of New York (OHBM) extends its deepest condolences to the family and friends of the Honorable David N. Dinkins. In 1963, he and four distinguished men founded the OHBM to bring together leaders to advocate for improvement in the Black community. We were blessed to have Mayor Dinkins as an active member, including serving as co-chair of the One Hundred Black Men Annual Gala,” said the organization in a statement. “While Mayor Dinkins made history as the first Black Mayor and faced several challenges in his role, he never strayed from his commitment to OHBM. He remained an incredible source of wisdom and camaraderie for all members of the organization.”

Many took to Twitter to express their condolences following Dinkins’ passing, sending prayers to the Dinkins family and recounting their past experiences with him.

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