David N. Dinkins, a barber’s son who became New York City’s first Black mayor on the wings of racial harmony but who was turned out by voters after one term in a storm of criticism over his handling of four days of racial violence in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, has died. He was 93.
His death was confirmed by Mayor Bill de Blasio, who said he had died at home.
Cautious, deliberate, a Harlem Democrat who climbed to City Hall through relatively minor elective and appointive offices, Mr. Dinkins had none of the charisma of Edward I. Koch, who preceded him, or Rudolph W. Giuliani, who succeeded him — who, along with Fiorello H. La Guardia in the 1930s and ’40s, were arguably the city’s most popular and successful mayors of the 20th century. Indeed, many historians and political experts say that as the 106th mayor of New York, from 1990 through 1993, Mr. Dinkins suffered by comparison with the Gullivers bestriding him.
He was a compromise selection for voters exhausted with racial strife, corruption, crime and fiscal turmoil, historians say, and proved to be an able caretaker rather than an innovator of grand achievements.
He inherited huge budget deficits that grew larger. He faced some of the worst crime problems in the city’s history and dealt with them by expanding the police to record levels. He kept city libraries open, revitalized Times Square and rehabilitated housing in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Harlem. But the racial amity that was his fondest hope remained a distant dream, and his lapses in responding to the Crown Heights crisis became an insurmountable legacy. (NYT)
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