David Norman Dinkins (born July 10, 1927) is an American politician who served as the 106th Mayor of New York City, from 1990 to 1993. He was the first and, to date, only African American to hold that office.
Before entering politics, Dinkins served in the U.S. Marine Corps, graduated cum laude from Howard University, and received a law degree from Brooklyn Law School. He served as Manhattan borough president before becoming mayor. Under the Dinkins administration, crime in New York City decreased more dramatically and more rapidly than at any time in previous New York City history.After leaving office Dinkins was named professor of public affairs at Columbia University. Dinkins was a member of the Board of Directors of the United States Tennis Association, and a member of The Jazz Foundation of America. He serves on the boards of the New York City Global Partners, the Children’s Health Fund (CHF), the Association to Benefit Children and the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund (NMCF). Dinkins is also on the Advisory Board of Independent News & Media and the Black Leadership Forum, is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and is Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Directors of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS.
Dinkins entered office pledging racial healing, and famously referred to New York City’s demographic diversity as a “gorgeous mosaic.” Under Dinkins’ Safe Streets, Safe Cities program, crime in New York City decreased more dramatically and more rapidly, both in terms of actual numbers and percentage, than at any time in modern New York City history. The rates of most crimes, including all categories of violent crime, made consecutive declines during the last 36 months of his four-year term, ending a 30-year upward spiral and initiating a trend of falling rates that continued beyond his term.Despite the actual abating of crime, Dinkins was hurt by the perception that crime was out of control during his administration. Dinkins also initiated a hiring program that expanded the police department nearly 25%. The New York Times reported, “He obtained the State Legislature’s permission to dedicate a tax to hire thousands of police officers, and he fought to preserve a portion of that anticrime money to keep schools open into the evening, an award-winning initiative that kept tens of thousands of teenagers off the street.
Dinkins sat on the Board of Directors and in 2013 was on the Honorary Founders Board of The Jazz Foundation of America. He worked with that organization to save the homes and lives of America’s elderly jazz and blues musicians, including musicians who survived Hurricane Katrina. He serves on the boards of the Children’s Health Fund (CHF), the Association to Benefit Children and the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund (NMCF). Dinkins is also Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Directors of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS.