David Dinkins

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David Dinkins

David Norman Dinkins is the former socialist Mayor of New York City.

Early life/education

David Norman Dinkins was born on July 10, 1927, in Trenton, New Jersey. He was raised in Trenton until the Depression, when his family moved to Harlem.

Dinkins served as a Marine during World War II. After receiving a B.S. in mathematics from Howard University in 1950, Dinkins married Joyce Burrows in 1953. He went on to graduate from Brooklyn Law School in 1956 and then started a private law practice that he maintained until 1975[1].

Harlem Democratic Party

Former Mayor David Dinkins, former Secretary of State Basil Paterson, former Manhattan Borough President Percy Sutton and Rep. Charles Rangel

Dinkins rose through the Democratic Party organization in Harlem and became part of an influential group of African-American politicians that included Percy Sutton, Basil Paterson, Denny Farrell, and Charles Rangel. As an investor, Dinkins was one of fifty African American investors who helped Percy Sutton found Inner City Broadcasting Corporation in 1971. He served briefly in the New York State Legislature and for many years as New York City Clerk.

He was named Deputy Mayor by Mayor Abraham D. Beame but was ultimately not appointed. He was elected Manhattan Borough President in 1985 on his third run for that office. He was elected the city's mayor on November 7, 1989, having defeated three-term incumbent Mayor Ed Koch and two others to win the Democratic nomination and going on to narrowly defeat Rudy Giuliani, the Republican candidate.[2]


New York Magazine 22 Aug 1977, page 10

In 1977, both Manhattan Borough president candidates David Dinkins (then City Clerk) and Ronnie Eldridge were members of the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee.[3]

Democratic Agenda/Socialist Caucus

For groups and organizations seeking radical social change within the Democratic Party, the National Convention of 1980 had at least one historic first - formation of a Socialist Caucus of delegates. Organized by the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee and by the Democratic Agenda which was DSOC's cadre and supporters within the Democratic Party and was based in DSOC' s New York office and at 1730 M Street, NW, Washington, DC. Some 31 delegates and alternates from twelve states and Democrats Abroad attended the Socialist Caucus.

As a preliminary to the convention's Socialist Caucus meeting, , indeed as a "building event" and as a continued show of support for Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), the Democratic Agenda sponsored a convention rally at New York's Town Hall. The speakers included Herman Badillo, Julian Bond, Fran Bennick, Harry Britt, Cesar Chavez, Rep. John Conyers (D-MI}, Douglas Fraser, Murray Finley, Michael Harrington, Terry Herndon, Ruth Jordan, Ruth Messinger, Eleanor Smeal, Gloria Steinem and William Winpisinger.

DSOC works within the Democratic Party, said Harrington, because of the party's relationships with organized workers, blacks, feminists, environmentalists and other "progressive groups."

The Socialist Caucus circulated a list of convention delegates who were caucus members, including;[4]

Greeting the Peace Marchers

The Great Peace Marchers arrived in New York, October 23 1986, after trekking 3,500 miles with their message of global nuclear disarmament.

They were greeted at the George Washington Bridge by Mark Green, Democratic candidate for Senate, David Dinkins, Manhattan Borough president, David Livingston, president of District 65 UAW, Assemblymembers David Paterson and Jerrold Nadler, and City Council members Ruth Messinger, Miriam Friedlander, Carolyn Maloney and Stanley Michaels.

The following Friday, the Communist Party USA's People's Daily World sponsored a reception for 25 of the marchers at Unity Auditorium on West 23rd St.[5]

Rainbow leader

In 1988 David Dinkins was chair of the New York Jesse Jackson, Jr. delegation to the DNC.[6]

Rainbow affiliate

Rainbow Coalition affiliated mayors who won in 1989 included Ben Nichols (Ithaca) David Dinkins (New York), Coleman Young (Detroit), Norm Rice (Seattle) and John Daniels ( New Haven}.[7]

LRS support 1990


DSA member

In the 1990s David Dinkins was a member of Democratic Socialists of America[8].

Empowerment '92

Empowerment '92: A Call to Action Conference, was held June 6 to 9, 1992. African American community activists, joined with trade unionists, politicians, peace activists, environmentalists and others to discuss how to change the nation's priorities as the economic crisis deepens.

Of the upcoming conference DC Statehood Senator Jesse Jackson said..."We issue this Call to Action to reaffirm and reassert our vision of a true world order, one based on peace, justice and human priorities. our message, translated into action can, and must srt a new direction for our nation".[9]

Speakers included;

Endorsed Nydia Velasquez

In her 1992 New York Democratic primary, Nydia Velasquez ran against two other Puerto Ricans Elizabeth Colon and Ruben Franco, president of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund. Velasquez won the primary, receiving endorsements from New York mayor and Democratic Socialists of America member David Dinkins, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Congressmen Jose Serrano and Edolphus Towns, Local 1199 leader Dennis Rivera and Teamsters leader Barry Feinstein and Puerto Rico governor Rafael Hernandez Colon.[10]

Tabankin soiree

In February 1995, a private party was held in New York to celebrate Margery Tabankin who had been recently chosen to head Steven Spielberg's Righteous Person's Foundation, (Tabankin also ran the Streisand Foundation). Attendees included Jesse Jackson, Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman, Streisand publicist Ken Sunshine, Rev. Al Sharpton, Ruth Messinger, Charles Schumer, Mark Green, Basil Paterson, David Paterson, David Dinkins, New York Urban League President Dennis Walcott, and Warner Records chairman Danny Goldberg. The taslk focused on how "liberals could take the political spotlight back from the conservatives"[11]

1998 Working Families Party co-chairs

Working Families Party co-chairs in 1998 were former New York mayor David Dinkins, Brooklyn Congresswoman Nydia Velasquez, former New York City Councilmember Sal Albanese, UAW Region 9 Director Tom Fricano and UNITE leader Ernesto Jofre.[12]

Supported Peurto Rican rebel prisoners

In 1999, eleven imprisoned Puerto Rican independence fighters were released on parole from long prison terms in the US. they were Eliam Escobar, Dylcia Pagan, Alberto Rodriguez, Ida Luz Rodriguez, Alejandrina Torres, Adolfo Matos, Edwin Cortes, Ricardo Jiminez, Luis Rosa, Alicia Rodriguez and Carmen Valentin. A twelfth prisoner Juan Segarra Palmer, accepted an offer to nullify his fine and was due to be released in five years. Two other prisoners Antonio Comacho Negron and Oscar Lopez Rivera refused the clemency offer.

The clemency offers came after a long campaign that saw 75,000 people sign a petition in Puerto Rico and the US. The campaign, led by the Pro-Human Rights Committee of Puerto Rico, involved such activists as Coretta Scott King, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Bishop Desmond Tutu, Rigoberta Menchu and Dr. Aaron Tolen, President of the World Council of Churches.

Political leaders who supported the prisoners included Reps Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), Nydia Velazquez (D, NY), Jose Serrano (D-NY), Ron Dellums (D-Calif.) and former New York City Mayor David Dinkins.[13]


Dinkins established a legacy of working to empower poor people and minorities. Elected to the New York State Assembly in 1966, he helped create the Search for Education, Elevation and Knowledge (SEEK) program, which provided grants and educational assistance to low-income students. He established guidelines that encouraged wider voter registration as president of the New York City Board of Elections, a post he held from 1975 until he became the president of the borough of Manhattan in 1985.

Dinkins was elected mayor in 1989, but lost the 1993 election to Rudolph Guiliani[14].


Dinkins has continued to be critical of problems within the criminal justice system, including abusive police and institutionalized racism in the courts. In 1999, his beliefs led to his arrest along with approximately 1,200 others while protesting the shooting of Amadou Diallo, an unarmed immigrant from West Africa who was shot by police.

Dinkins currently serves as professor of public affairs at the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs. He hosts Dialogue with Dinkins, a public affairs radio program, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the board of the American Stock Exchange, among many other organizations[15].

Relationship to Joe Walker

Joe Walker and David Dinkins

During his life, long time Communist Party USA associate Joe Walker enjoyed professional and personal relationships with a number of dignitaries, civil rights activists, and freedom fighters to include Martin Luther King, Jr., Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Angela Davis, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. James Baldwin, Hulan Jack and David Dinkins, the former Mayor of New York City[16].

Metropolitan College gala

Metropolitan College of New York celebrated its founding with a 50th Anniversary Gala, Thursday, October 23, 2014 at the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan. Themed, “Amplify the Dream”; the Gala highlighted the school’s dynamic history. The Gala’s honorary chair was Mayor David Dinkins, New York City’s first Black mayor.

“I am honored to serve as honorary chair of MCNY’s Anniversary Gala,” said Mayor Dinkins. “For half a century, MCNY has not only produced professional citizens in New York City, but those who are also socially-responsible and share a commitment to give back and make our society a better place for all New Yorkers.”

The distinguished members of the honorary committee include: Mayor Bill de Blasio, Gale Brewer, Manhattan Borough President; Ruben Diaz, Jr., Bronx Borough President; Senator Kirsten Gillibrand; Carmen de Lavallade and the late Geoffrey Holder; Fernando Ferrer, Vice Chairman, MTA and former Bronx President; Ruth Messinger, President, American Jewish World Service; Senator Charles E. Schumer and Reverend Al Sharpton. The Gala honorees include: Helen LaKelly Hunt (Changemaker), Dr. Edison O. Jackson (Trailblazer) and R. Rick Baker (Champion). Robert Sargent Shriver was honored posthumously.[17]



  1. http://www.thehistorymakers.com/biography/biography.asp?bioindex=156&category=PoliticalMakers&occupation=Mayor%2C%20New%20York%20City&name=David%20Dinkins
  2. Former NYC mayors.com, Dinkins bio
  3. New York Magazine 22 Aug 1977, page 10
  4. Information Digest, Septemer 19, 1980, p 333
  5. PDW Oct. 23. 1986, page 3, 'Full schedule in NYC for peace marchers' by Richard Hoyen
  6. [Unity, August 8, 1988]
  7. [Rainbow Organizer Jan. feb. 1990]
  8. http://www.socialdemocratsusa.org/aboutus.shtml
  9. Peoples Weekly World, May 25, 1991, page 8
  10. PWW August 29, 1992 page 15
  11. [Barbra and Jesse split an egg roll. New York Magazine 20 Feb 1995 page 13]
  12. Peoples Weekly World, Sep. 19, 1998, page 5
  13. PWW, 11 Puerto Ricans accept clemency offer, Jose Cruz. Sep. 11, 1999, page 4
  14. http://www.thehistorymakers.com/biography/biography.asp?bioindex=156&category=PoliticalMakers&occupation=Mayor%2C%20New%20York%20City&name=David%20Dinkins
  15. http://www.thehistorymakers.com/biography/biography.asp?bioindex=156&category=PoliticalMakers&occupation=Mayor%2C%20New%20York%20City&name=David%20Dinkins
  16. [1] ChickenBones: A Journal for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes, obituary of Joe Walker, accessed June 4, 2010