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Waters Statement on the Passing of First Black Mayor of New York City, David Dinkins

November 25, 2020
Press Release

Waters Statement on the Passing of First Black Mayor of New York City, David Dinkins

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43), Chair of the House Financial Services Committee, issued the following statement following the death of David Dinkins, the first Black Mayor of New York City.

“I am saddened by the loss of my friend, the legendary former Mayor of New York City, David Dinkins. David was an undeniable trailblazer for the Black community. He tapped into our community’s imagination and showed us what was possible. We shared in his rise and success in New York because we understood the perilous struggles he overcame to ascend to that office, becoming New York City’s first African American mayor in 326 years. David’s 1989 campaign slogan “you don’t have to be loud to be strong,” underscored his thoughtful and deliberative approach to leadership and politics.

“Like so many, I remember when Nelson Mandela arrived in the United States in 1990, just after being freed, and shared in the pride and joy so many of us had in having worked so hard to break Apartheid South Africa and set Mandela free. While I had the immense pleasure and honor of welcoming Mandela to Los Angeles, David welcomed Mandela to New York City. We understood the significance of a free Mandela in Los Angeles with me, a leader in helping to divert funds from Apartheid South Africa and of Mandela in New York with David, the city’s first Black Mayor. This moment sent a powerful message to the world, but it was also one of those occasions in which the Black community, bound by a shared experience of racism and oppression in the United States and around the world, understood that we had just achieved something historic and monumental. It is a testament to the strength and fortitude of people like David Dinkins, who found success against all odds and systems designed to ensure his failure.

“As Mayor of New York City, it was David Dinkins, not Rudy Giuliani, as pointed out by the New York Daily News, who created the Safe Streets, Safe City plan that reversed a perilous decline in the ranks of the New York Police Department, contributing to a 16 percent drop in violent crime. And it was David Dinkins, not Ed Koch or Rudy Giuliani, who negotiated the Times Square land development deals that revitalized 42nd St and opened up opportunities for companies and brands beloved by Americans across the country. Unfortunately, despite his efforts, the city descended into an economic recession, experienced an increase in crime, and gave way to internal cultural tensions. David lost reelection to Rudy Giuliani who exploited those tensions, engaged in racist political stunts, and made baseless accusations against David, such as accusing him of cheating.

“I join with New Yorkers and people across the country in lifting up David Dinkins as a legendary titan and powerhouse in American politics. It is my hope that his legacy will live on and that future generations will tell the story of how a young Black man from modest means became the first Black mayor of one of the largest cities in the country. My thoughts and prayers are with David Dinkins’ family and loved ones who were already mourning the loss of David’s wife, Joyce Dinkins, just two months ago. It is my sincere hope that David’s distinguished service to his country, the City of New York, and his legacy of achievement will bring them comfort and peace of mind during this difficult time.”