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David Dinkins, New York City's first and only Black mayor, dies at 93

Former New York City Mayor David Dinkins (R) campaigns with mayoral candidate Mark Green in Brooklyn, New York City, on September 3, 2001. Green ultimately lost the general election to Republican Michael Bloomberg. File Photo by Monika Graff/UPI
Former New York City Mayor David Dinkins (R) campaigns with mayoral candidate Mark Green in Brooklyn, New York City, on September 3, 2001. Green ultimately lost the general election to Republican Michael Bloomberg. File Photo by Monika Graff/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 24 (UPI) -- Former New York City Mayor David Dinkins, the city's first and only Black leader, has died at his home at the age of 93, officials said.

Dinkins was found unresponsive late Monday at his home on New York City's Upper East Side, New York City Police said. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio confirmed his death.

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Dinkins became mayor in 1990 after defeating Republican Rudy Giuliani by about 47,000 votes -- the narrowest electoral margin in the city's mayoral history. He'd previously defeated incumbent Democratic Mayor Edward Koch in the Democratic primary.

Born in Trenton, N.J., Dinkins graduated magna cum laude from Howard University with a degree in mathematics and later received a law degree from Brooklyn Law School. He served in the Marines in Korea and later married Joyce Burrows, the daughter of Harlem Assemblyman Daniel Burrows.

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After briefly practicing law, Dinkins began his political career as a Harlem assemblyman in 1966. After serving as city clerk for a decade, he was elected Manhattan borough president in 1985.

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As mayor of the United States' largest city, Dinkins became a national voice in favor of sanctioning the White apartheid regime of South Africa and fought to have the city divest $500 million in pension fund stock that had been invested in companies that did business in the African nation.

Dinkins drew backlash from the NYPD by working to create an all-civilian police complaint review board, and he also spearheaded the office of Special Commissioner of Investigations for schools and a system of after-hours youth centers called Beacon Schools.

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During his single term, the budget deficits Dinkins inherited grew larger and he expanded the police department in an effort to rein in rising crime rates. New York City under his administration was emerging from decades of economic depression and the highest crime rates in the nation during the 1970s and 1980s.

While he was credited with revitalizing Times Square, he also became associated with an ineffective response to racial tensions in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, as disputes between the Black and the Orthodox Jewish communities erupted into five nights of rioting in 1991.

Dinkins' attempt for a second term ended in 1993 when he was again challenged by Giuliani, and lost by about 55,000 votes in another close contest.

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Following his term as mayor, Dinkins remained active in New York City politics, hosted a weekly radio show and taught public affairs at Columbia University. He never ran for public office again. To date, he's been New York City's only Black mayor.

Dinkins is survived by his son David Jr., daughter Donna and two grandchildren.

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