In Memoriam: David Norton Dinkins, 1927-2020

David Dinkins, the 106th mayor of New York City and former professor in the practice of public policy at the School of Public and International Affairs at Columbia University, died at his home in New York on November 23. He was 93 years old.

Lee Bollinger, president of Columbia University said that “we feel with his passing the end of an era. We knew David as the rest of New York did, as a person of wisdom, empathy, uncompromising integrity, and homespun humor, all qualities regrettably becoming vanishingly rare in public life. David was a steadfast leader for social justice, in detail and as a symbol. And, for me, he was a trusted and endlessly supportive advisor and friend.”

Dinkins was born and raised in the New York City metropolitan area. After serving the Marines, Dinkins earned a bachelor’s degree at Howard University in Washington, D.C., and a juris doctorate at Brooklyn Law School.

Dinkins practiced law in the city and then represented a city district in the New York State Assembly. He was then elected Manhattan Borough President and in 1989, mayor of New York City. He was defeated for reelection in 1993 by Rudy Giuliani. After his defeat, Dinkins concentrated on being an educator. His teaching career at Columbia University spanned more than a quarter century.


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