Dinkins' death comes just a month after his wife Joyce died

By Tim McGovern
November 24, 2020 08:46 PM
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David Dinkins
David Dinkins
| Credit: Karjean Levine/Getty Images

New York city's first Black mayor, David Dinkins, has died. He was 93.

Dinkins' death on Monday, which comes just a little more than a month after the death of his wife Joyce at 89, was confirmed by the NYPD.

"Today we mark the passing of former Mayor David Dinkins. An enormous loss to our city, we laud him for a life of service dedicated to the people of this 'beautiful mosaic' — he built bridges & strengthened partnerships in every corner of NYC," Police Commissioner Dermot Shea wrote on Twitter Tuesday.

"Thank you, Mr. Mayor. Rest In Peace," he added.

Dinkins had reportedly been found by his health aide after returning home from his office at Columbia University, where he taught as a professor in the institution's School of International Public Affairs.

A project coordinator at Columbia University's School of International Public Affairs did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

After his death, Governor Andrew Cuomo wrote on Twitter, "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," he added.

David Dinkins
David Dinkins
| Credit: Djamilla Rosa Cochran/WireImage

Dinkins, a former Marine and member of the U.S House of Representative, beat incumbent mayor Ed Koch in 1989 in the Democratic primary for the mayorship and ultimately won the election against then-challenger Rudy Giuliani by a margin of 47,000 votes, the slimmest margin in election history for the New York office.

He later lost his reelection to Giuliani, 76, in 1993.

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During his tenure, Dinkins faced several challenges — widespread homelessness, an unchecked AIDS epidemic with a growing number of deaths and rising unemployment.

And while Dinkins' mild-mannered nature was seen by detractors at the time as being too soft, in hindsight, he has received more praise for his demeanor.

"He was a guiding hand in our lives in so many ways," current New York City mayor Bill de Blasio said of Dinkins during his daily coronavirus briefing Tuesday. "What he did for the city, he simply put us on a better path."

"David Dinkins believed that we could be better, 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."