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Local Leaders And Luminaries Mourn Passing Of David Dinkins, A 'Truly Great Man'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Current and former elected leaders and luminaries are reacting to news of the passing of former New York City Mayor David N. Dinkins.

Dinkins died Monday at the age of 93. He was New York City's first -- and to date only -- Black mayor.

More: David Dinkins, New York City's Only Black Mayor, Dead At 93

At his Tuesday morning news conference, Mayor Bill de Blasio said he and his wife are "feeling a lot right now."

"He was animated by love for people, all people," de Blasio said. "David Dinkins believed that we could be better, believed that we could overcome our divisions. He showed it what it was like to be a gentleman, to be a kind person no matter what was thrown at him -- and a lot was thrown at him."

Watch Mayor De Blasio's Tuesday Briefing:

On Twitter, de Blasio wrote "Chirlane and I are mourning a truly great man. David Dinkins simply set this city on a better path. He was my mentor, he was my friend, and his steadfast commitment to fight for that 'gorgeous mosaic' inspires me every single day. We'll keep up his fight."

At his afternoon press conference, Gov. Andrew Cuomo echoed the mayor's praise, saying of Dinkins, "We're all going to miss him. He was really a New York champion and a beautiful New Yorker, and a mentor to me and a mentor to so many of us. So, God bless David Dinkins."

Former Mayor Mike Bloomberg wrote Dinkins, by winning in 1989, "helped New York City turn an important corner in racial equality."

"He entered City Hall at a difficult time in New York's history, and he helped set the city on a course for success -- and a reduction in crime that no one at the time imagined possible," Bloomberg wrote.

PHOTOS: Mayor David Dinkins Through The Years

"He was always generous to me during my time in office, for which I was grateful -- and I took every opportunity to remind people that mayors after him stood on his shoulders and built on his legacy," Bloomberg added. "Today, while others may remember his distinguished and courtly demeanor, I will always remember a man, a Marine, a mayor and a friend who was deeply proud of his service to his city and country -- and rightly so."

Ironically, it was Rudy Giuliani, who ran on a law and order platform, who ended Dinkins' mayoral tenure after one term. Giuliani went on to get the credit for what Dinkins started, hiring more cops and focusing on community policing.

And while frequently critical of his predecessor, on Tuesday Giuliani took to Twitter to praise Dinkins.

"I extend my deepest condolences to the family of Mayor David Dinkins, and to the many New Yorkers who loved and supported him," Giuliani wrote. "He gave a great deal of his life in service to our great city. That service is respected and honored by all."

FLASHBACKManhattan Municipal Building Renamed For Former NYC Mayor David Dinkins

New York Attorney General Letitia James mourned Dinkins as "an inspiration," saying his example "shines brighter than the most powerful lighthouse imaginable." Here's her full statement:

The example Mayor David Dinkins set for all of us shines brighter than the most powerful lighthouse imaginable. For decades, Mayor Dinkins lead with compassion and an unparalleled commitment to our communities. His deliberative and graceful demeanor belied his burning passion for challenging the inequalities that plague our society.

Personally, Mayor Dinkins' example was an inspiration to me from my first run for city council to my campaigns for public advocate and attorney general. I was honored to have him hold the bible at my inaugurations because I, and others, stand on his shoulders.

The voice that gave birth to the 'gorgeous mosaic' is now at rest. New York will mourn Mayor Dinkins and continue to be moved by his towering legacy.

"A steadfast champion for the poor, Mayor Dinkins broke barriers as New York City's first Black mayor and his unwavering belief in human rights and the need for equality will continue to serve as a shining example for us all," Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said in a statement.

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson called Dinkins "a remarkable public servant," adding, "He believed New York City could meet any challenge it faced by working collectively. As the city's 106th mayor, he made it his mission to look out for communities who needed the most help, but who were often the most overlooked."

"David Dinkins was an extraordinary public servant who made NYC fairer, better, and stronger. He was calm on the outside, and burned with a passion for justice on the inside. Until the end, he never stopped fighting for the city he loved and celebrating its 'gorgeous mosaic,'" said former President Bill Clinton.

Added New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy: "The son of a Trenton barber and real estate broker, David Dinkins rose to lead New York City out of a time of political turmoil, seeking with a steady hand to heal longstanding rifts that had divided its residents. He faced early on the forces of discrimination that he would later commit his public career to breaking down when, as a student at Trenton Central High School, he wasn't allowed to use the school's swimming pool because of the color of his skin."

"That he was New York's first Black mayor cemented a place for him in history, but he brought in other leaders who mirrored the city's diversity, and initiated many of the changes that renewed its place on the world stage as a cultural center. Tammy and I send our condolences to David Jr. and Donna, and their families and friends, and all who worked alongside Mayor Dinkins. Our flags will fly at half-staff in his honor. May he Rest In Peace," Murphy added.

Former New York Gov. David Paterson remembered Dinkins as a gentlemen and statesmen.

"David Dinkins was New York City mayor during one of New York City's most difficult times, contending with both a failing economy and historical racial divides. He did it with decency, he did it with grace and he did it with respect," Paterson said in a statement.

State Sen. Brian Benjamin remembered Dinkins as a "true gentleman."

"[Mayor David Dinkins] would always tell me: 'When you go out there young man know that you are also representing Harlem and Black America, so always be thoughtful, honest and respectful towards everybody whether you like them or not,'" Benjamin wrote. "Rest in Power Sir. True gentleman."

"We will always remember our friend for his passion, integrity, and commitment to using our sport to better the lives of others.  We are better—as an Association, as a sport, and as people—because of him. That will always be a part of his great legacy. We all will miss our friend, but we will move forward committed to preserving his legacy and continuing his good work," said USTA Chairman Patrick Galbraith.

Check back soon for more on this developing story.


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