David Dinkins broke the racial barrier and made history in 1989 by becoming the first African-American mayor of New York City.
It was the greatest achievement in his long career in public service.
Dinkins grew up in Trenton, New Jersey and Harlem, the son of a businessman and a housemaid.
Dinkins joined the Navy and finished his math studies at Howard University, where he met his wife, Joyce Burrows, the daughter of a Harlem legislator who would become his mentor.
He graduated from Brooklyn Law School and rose to popularity within the Harlem political machine.
In 1989, he ran for mayor, facing Ed Koch in the Democratic primary.
Dinkins drew on the support of African-American voters, who felt forgotten by the government, as well as the backing of liberal whites unhappy with Koch.
Koch faced a series of corruption scandals during his tenure and the murder of a young African-American by a gang of white men tipped the balance in Dinkins’ favor.
In the general elections he beat Rudy Giuliani by just two points.
But its historic victory was not without huge fiscal challenges.
The country was in recession and the city had a $ 1 billion budget gap.
Increased taxes, and increased violence in the city contributed to his defeat to Giuliani in 1993.
Among his accomplishments is the creation of youth centers and health programs for low-income New Yorkers.
It also created the Civil Complaint Review Board.
Although he did not completely withdraw from the political sphere, Dinkins later devoted himself to presenting a radio program and taught at Columbia University.
He was one of Bill de Blasio’s advocates in the mayoral primaries in 2013.
Dinkins will be remembered for his grace in and out of contests, even when it was his turn to lose.