David N. Dinkins — the first and only Black mayor of New York City to date — has passed away at age 93.
On Tuesday, the New York City Police Department confirmed to CNN that the politician died Monday evening at his Upper East Side residence.
Officials had received a call from Dinkins’ home about an unconscious person having difficulty breathing.
Per The New York Times, the city’s current mayor, Bill de Blasio, also confirmed the tragic news, which comes less than two months after Dinkins’ wife, Joyce Dinkins, passed away at age 89.
“[My wife] Chirlane and I are mourning a truly great man. David Dinkins simply set this city on a better path. He was my mentor, he was my friend, and his steadfast commitment to fight for that ‘gorgeous mosaic’ inspires me every single day. We’ll keep up his fight,” de Blasio tweeted.
Chirlane and I are mourning a truly great man. David Dinkins simply set this city on a better path.— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) November 24, 2020
He was my mentor, he was my friend, and his steadfast commitment to fight for that “gorgeous mosaic” inspires me every single day.
We’ll keep up his fight. pic.twitter.com/gL0yY8Ae9s
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo also paid his respects on social media, writing, “With the passing of Mayor Dinkins, NY lost a remarkable civic leader. The first and the only Black mayor of NYC, he cherished our ‘gorgeous mosaic’ & served the city & state over a career spanning decades with the hope of unity and a deep kindness. My friend, you will be missed.”
With the passing of Mayor Dinkins, NY lost a remarkable civic leader. The first and the only Black mayor of NYC, he cherished our “gorgeous mosaic” & served the city & state over a career spanning decades with the hope of unity and a deep kindness.— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) November 24, 2020
My friend, you will be missed. pic.twitter.com/8xybkMcvPm
Both de Blasio and Cuomo are referencing Dinkins’ famous “gorgeous mosaic” phrase, alluding to the state’s diverse population.
Born on July 10, 1927, in Trenton, New Jersey, CNN reports Dinkins joined the U.S. Marine Corps after high school as one of the Montford Point Marines, the first Black Americans to serve in the branch.
He later obtained a bachelor’s of science degree in mathematics at Howard University and a law degree from Brooklyn Law School.
After defeating Ed Koch, Dinkins became the 106th Mayor of New York City from 1990 to 1993 — the first and only Black American to hold this position.
During his time in office, CNN says Dinkins expanded affordable housing to combat homelessness, pushed for measures to tackle the HIV/AIDS crisis, and took steps to address the city’s high crime rate.
However, Dinkins was criticized with how he handled a number of racial conflicts, including the 1991 Crown Heights riots.
On August 19, 1991, the riots began after two children of Guyanese immigrants were accidentally struck by a car running a red light while following the motorcade of Jewish rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson. One child died and the second was severely injured.
In 1993, Dinkins lost his reelection bid to Rudy Giuliani, the first Republican mayor of the city in 20 years.
After leaving the mayor’s office, Dinkins became a professor of public policy at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and served as a board member for several organizations, including the United States Tennis Association and the Children’s Health Fund.
He is survived by two children and two grandchildren.
Our condolences go out to his family and loved ones for their loss.