Local Leaders and Figures Share Words of Remembrance in Response to Mayor Dinkins’ Death
Numerous local leaders and figures shared honoring words of remembrance in response to David Dinkins’ passing on November 23, 2020.
Mr. Dinkins served as New York City’s 106th Mayor from 1990 to 1993. He died of natural causes just six weeks after the death of his wife, Joyce Dinkins.
Attorney General James’ Statement on the Passing of Former New York City Mayor David Dinkins:
“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.
“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.”
Maya Wiley Statement on Passing of Mayor David Dinkins:
“Mayor David Dinkins was a towering leader, a history-maker and one of the most gracious and elegant men I ever had the pleasure to meet. He loved his wife and never gave a speech that did not honor her. When he met someone, he would smile with a genuine kindness that radiated warmth and welcome and his eyes carried a sincerity that was deeply affecting.
Above all, Mayor David Dinkins, the New York State Assemblyman, who became the Manhattan Borough President, buoyed so many of us by becoming the first – and only – Black Mayor of the largest, most populous, complicated city in this country.
A member of the famed Gang of Four with Charlie Rangel, Percy Sutton, and Basil Paterson, Mayor Dinkins helped build political power in Harlem that changed the course of New York City’s history. As a Harlem resident and Columbia Law School student, I was knee-deep in the New York reeling from the AIDS Crisis and representing a client facing discrimination for being a gay man who was HIV positive in a case before the NYC Commission on Human Rights. David Dinkins’s 1989 election victory was a bright ray of hope to me about the future of this troubled city. His historic race against Rudy Giuliani created a tidal wave of pride that a Black New Yorker had united Black and Latino voters.
As Mayor, David Dinkins helped revive and save New York City. Leading with a calming demeanor and a sense of right and justice, David Dinkins saw New York City’s diversity as a ‘gorgeous mosaic’ that should be celebrated. Under his leadership, New York City began the revival that has led us to be the city we are today. New York City is better off because David Dinkins was Mayor.
While we mourn Mayor Dinkins’s passing, I am comforted that he now joins his beloved wife Joyce, whom he was married to for over 60 years. Both were selfless public servants who believed in leaving New York better off. I have long been personally inspired and moved by Mayor Dinkins’s quiet strength and resolve to do what is right, and today I join New Yorkers and his many friends around the world in remembrance of his vital legacy.
Rest in Power, Mayor Dinkins.”
Statement from Council Speaker Corey Johnson on the Passing of Former Mayor David Dinkins
“Mayor David Dinkins was a remarkable public servant whose grace and dignity set the standard for what compassionate leadership can achieve. He believed New York City could meet any challenge it faced by working collectively.
“As the city’s 106th mayor, he made it his mission to look out for communities who needed the most help, but who were often the most overlooked. He made history as the city’s first – and still only – Black mayor, and inspired a generation of future leaders, many of whom he enjoyed mentoring.
“My deepest condolences to his family, including his son David Jr. and daughter Donna Dinkins Hoggard, his friends, and all New Yorkers feeling this loss so deeply.”
Public Advocate’s Statement on the Passing of Former Mayor David N. Dinkins
“It’s hard to adequately express the impact of the life and work of New York City’s first Black Mayor, David Dinkins. The city benefited from his leadership, and so many Black New Yorkers benefitted from his pioneering example. For me, a young man when he was elected, he was inspiring- I could not be the fourth citywide Black elected leader if he were not the first. It was a privilege to have met and spent time with him, and it is an enduring honor to work in the building he did for so long, one that now bears his name.
“Mayor Dinkins assumed his role in City Hall and in history at a time when the city faced compounding crises of economic turbulence, racial injustice, and systemic failings in housing, policing, healthcare, and more. The Mayor sought to steer the city through the moment and move it forward. He took up that mission not with bombast or ego, but with deliberative determination to continue down the path of liberty, justice, and equity.
“He was a moral center for the city with a clear vision for a better New York. In creating the CCRB, in leading the Safe Streets, Safe City initiative, and in so many other areas, he paved the way for progress we would later see and which others would try to claim credit for. He took strong interest in uplifting and supporting young people like myself, and he focused on creating direct and indirect opportunities for growth that I and others now try to build upon. And for his work, he was mercilessly attacked and vilified by those who would rather stoke resentment than solve problems. Through all of the criticism, he continued to do the work he knew to be right. After he left office, he continued to be a pillar of leadership and a role model for people across the borough and the nation.
“Losing Mayor Dinkins now, just weeks after his beloved wife Joyce, is a solemn moment of sorrow for our city. 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.”
Statement from New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer on Passing of Mayor David Dinkins
“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.
“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.
“A public servant by nature and not just by trade, Mayor Dinkins offered sound counsel and a willing ear to generations of public servants, activists, and community leaders long after his mayoralty. I count myself fortunate to have spent time with and learned from such a man.
“My thoughts and prayers are with the Dinkins family and their loved ones. Rest in power, Mayor Dinkins.”
NY Governor Cuomo’s words during today’s Press Briefing:
“We got some bad news. We lost really a political giant, a political pioneer in Mayor David Dinkins. I was relatively young fellow watching Mayor David Dinkins. I learned a lot from him. I worked with him many times for many years. He was extraordinary. He was beautiful, charismatic, principled, had a gentle but strong way about him.
And you want to talk about pioneers and groundbreakers, when he ran for mayor, you know, this was really such a step forward. David Dinkins, Percy Sutton, Basil Patterson, Charlie Rangel, they were really barrier breakers extraordinaire when they were doing it. They were cutting the brush and forging a path for so many to follow. But they went first, and the first person down the path, you catch all the briars, and all the scrapes, and when Mayor Dinkins was mayor, the city really had issues.
But we’re all going to miss him. And he was really a New York champion and a beautiful New Yorker, and a mentor to me and a mentor to so many of us. So God bless David Dinkins. 2020 was a bad year, my friends. We’re going to look forward to a new year.”
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio during today’s press conference:
“I want to begin today with a very heavy heart and tell you about the passing of David Dinkins. I’m feeling a lot right now. Chirlane’s feeling a lot. This is someone who meant so much to us and was a guiding hand in our lives in so many ways. But what he did for the city, I think the way to say it is he simply put us on a better path, and he did it with heart and warmth and love. He was animated by love for people, all people. And David Dinkins believed that we could be better, he believed we could overcome our divisions. He showed us what it was like to be a gentleman, to be a kind person, no matter what was thrown at him, and a lot was thrown at him. And he always tried to answer the hate would love. It was remarkable serving with him in this building, to see that no matter what was going on out there, he always had that joy that he found, and it was particularly for children. He loved children so deeply, and he did something about it, creating those amazing Beacon afterschool programs that continued to stay, that we’ve actually been expanding to reach more and more kids. This is something he believed in so deeply, everything that we could do for our child. And he had a wisdom, an ability to stay steady, no matter how choppy the waters, it was just extraordinary.
And it’s hard to be that patient and that kind when there’s so many troubles all around you, but he did it. And he made things happen for this city that he’s really never gotten the credit for, including putting us on the pathway to becoming a much safer city with the Safe Streets, Safe City program, and all the affordable housing that he launched and the generation of really devoted public servants that got their start. And Chirlane and I are humbly among that generation that we would never have had the opportunity to serve our city if it weren’t for David Dinkins. And I’m speaking now to the hundreds and hundreds of people who were part of a team in the years 1989 to 1993. And just saying to all of you, I’m expressing my love to all of you, how much we miss David Dinkins right now. And yet we still have each other and that’s the way he would have wanted it. He really worked constantly to nurture the next generation. And whenever he’s around, you felt reassured because he was there for all the right reasons. So, I’m feeling something painful in my heart right now. I’m feeling like a loss and an emptiness because he’s gone. But I also really feel his guidance still, his presence. And we’re going to keep going. We’re going to continue his fight.
He used that phrase, gorgeous mosaic. That was sort of his signature phrase. And I don’t want anyone to miss the meaning of that because if you were around it, he would say it. And he felt that he felt that deeply. It wasn’t just like a throwaway line and some people would mock it, but they weren’t paying attention to the truth. He meant to say, first of all, how much he just loved people. He loved humanity. He saw the beauty in New Yorkers. He saw the gorgeous reality of the city. Even when it was tough, he still saw the good. And mosaic meant every one of us, every one of our communities, our cultures could shine through. There didn’t need to be a contradiction or a conflict. We could all add up to something greater. And at the time a lot of people didn’t use that phrase. They liked to say melting pot, which suggests taking away our unique features and culture. He didn’t see it that way. He thought each beautiful strand should shine through and it could lead to something greater, and it did. So, David Dinkins, God bless you, we miss you already. But we all learned a lot. We all became better because of you. And we’re going to carry on your work, and rest in peace.
Everybody, we can talk about the great people we’ve lost, or we can do something even better, which is to honor them and follow their lessons. The one thing that Mayor Dinkins always cared about was uplifting other people and helping people.”