David Dinkins

David Dinkins, mayors of New York City

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David Dinkins

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David Norman Dinkins (born July 10, 1927 in Trenton, New Jersey) was the Mayor of New York City from 1989 through 1993, being the first and to date only African American to hold that office. He is the most recent Democrat to have been elected Mayor of New York City. During World War II he served in the United States Marine Corps. Dinkins is a graduate of Howard University, with a degree in Mathematics, and Brooklyn Law School.


Dinkins entered office pledging racial healing throughout what he called the "gorgeous mosaic" of New York's diverse communities. It was thought that his low-key personality, which contrasted so sharply with that of his predecessor, along with the symbolic aspect of his being the city's first black mayor might ease racial tensions. Instead, Dinkins' term was marked by polarizing events including the 1991 Crown Heights riots and the boycott of a Korean grocery in Flatbush. He withheld police protection during the Crown Heights Riots, publicly endorsed the accused shoplifters at the Korean grocery, and he used city funds to pay for the funeral of the drug dealer whose being shot by police sparked the Washington Heights Riots .

Perhaps as a result, he is often viewed as unpopular, presiding over a city at its nadir, due to a history of poor management stretching over decades. Many perceived him as weak and indecisive, if well-meaning, at best. The diplomatic style that had seemed like an asset now appeared to be a liability. He was also hurt by the fact that crime was out of control, as he was in office during the peak of the crack epidemic and the drug-fueled wars which followed it. The Dinkins administration, hired 12,000 more police officers.

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