David Dinkins, New York’s first and only black mayor, has died

David Dinkins on his first day as New York City mayor, January 2, 1990.

He was the first and so far only black mayor of New York. Often referred to as ” too kind “ to lead the first American metropolis, David Dinkins died Monday, November 23, at his home, at the age of 93. Only two months after his wife, Joyce, died on October 11.

This Democrat was mayor of New York for a single term, from 1990 to 1993. He narrowly edged Republican Rudy Giuliani, who was to take revenge four years later.

“He was really a great man (…), he put this city on the right track”, tweeted on Tuesday Bill de Blasio, current mayor of New York. “He had put a large part of his life at the service of the city”, said Mr. Giuliani, offering his condolences. “He was very generous with his time with me when I was mayor”Michael Bloomberg, who succeeded Rudy Giuliani, tweeted on Tuesday. “He was my tutor and my friend”, said Bill de Blasio.

His tenure – after that of Democrat Edward Koch – was however marked by racist and anti-Semitic unrest, including the 1991 Crown Heights riots in Brooklyn, and the death of a Jewish student.

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City in the throes of violence

David Dinkins, who had inherited a city plagued by violence, poverty and budget difficulties, was widely criticized for his hesitation and difficulties in managing the American economic capital, which he called “Formidable mosaic”. He came to town hall wanting to be a peacemaker in a city then plagued by violence, crack, poverty and budgetary difficulties.

Racial tensions had exploded just before his election: in April 1989, five young blacks and Hispanics were wrongly accused of rape and injuries inflicted on a 28-year-old white jogger, Trisha Meili, in Central Park. They lodged a complaint against New York City and obtained redress.

A few months later, a black teenager, Yusuf Hawkins, was killed by a group of white youth in Brooklyn. His lack of grip earned him the title of ” too kind “, even of “Wimp” by some.

David Dinkins was nonetheless also a symbol of openness, appointing many women to positions of responsibility, the first Puerto Rican to head the city’s fire department and an openly gay black psychiatrist to head the suffering services. mental disorders. After his departure from town hall, he took on the role of occasional adviser to his successors.

In A Mayor’s Life: Governing New York’s Gorgeous Mosaic, his memoirs published in 2013, this native of Trenton, New Jersey, while acknowledging certain errors, attributed his failures – and his defeat in 1993 – mainly “To racism, pure and simple”.

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The World with AFP


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