David Dinkins’s Real Political Legacy: Transcending Racist Trolling, Advancing Black Hope


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WNYC / The Gothamist

Mayor David Dinkins at his 1990 inauguration FRANKIE ZITHS/AP/SHUTTERSTOCK

Political tributes and memories continued to flood through social media, airwaves and cable channels on Wednesday as New Yorkers and political watchers reflected on the legacy of David Dinkins, New York City’s 106th mayor, who died Monday at the age of 93.

Some articles highlighted his trailblazing role as the city’s only nonwhite mayor. Others dismissed him as insufficiently charismatic to deal with rising crime and racial unrest of the early 1990s.

But perhaps the best lesson to be found in the Dinkins tributes is how the political legacy of a controversial mayor can come into focus long after he leaves office—and how political history repeats itself in surprising ways.

Those with sharp memories of New York City politics critiqued a tweet late Monday night from Rudy Giuliani, who extended his condolences to the Dinkins family, saying the ex-mayor’s service “is honored and respected by all.”

Political tributes and memories continued to flood through social media, airwaves and cable channels on Wednesday as New Yorkers and political watchers reflected on the legacy of David Dinkins, New York City’s 106th mayor, who died Monday at the age of 93.

Some articles highlighted his trailblazing role as the city’s only nonwhite mayor. Others dismissed him as insufficiently charismatic to deal with rising crime and racial unrest of the early 1990s.

But perhaps the best lesson to be found in the Dinkins tributes is how the political legacy of a controversial mayor can come into focus long after he leaves office—and how political history repeats itself in surprising ways.

Those with sharp memories of New York City politics critiqued a tweet late Monday night from Rudy Giuliani, who extended his condolences to the Dinkins family, saying the ex-mayor’s service “is honored and respected by all.”

That wasn’t Giuliani’s tone in the late 1980s when Dinkins narrowly defeated Giuliani, then a US attorney who would return to beat Dinkins four years later in 1993, inspiring a backlash that kept Democrats out of City Hall for 20 years.

“Giuliani is to Dinkins what Trump was to Obama,” said Christina Greer, an associate professor of political science at Fordham University and author of the book “Black Ethics: Race, Immigration and The Pursuit of the American Dream. “Someone who trolled a Black man who had way more class dignity, education and intelligence, constantly incited racist tropes to distract from the fact that this Black person was actually doing a solid job.” Continue reading

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Haitian Times

The Haitian Times was founded in 1999 as a weekly English language newspaper based in Brooklyn, NY.The newspaper is widely regarded as the most authoritative voice for Haitian Diaspora.
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