NEW YORK (CBSNewYork)Mayor David Dinkins‘ impact spanned well beyond politics.

New York City’s only Black mayor, who died Monday at the age of 93 from natural causes, left an indelible mark on many.

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Karen St. Hilaire was just 16 or 17 in the 1980s when she met Dinkins as a member of his Youth Advisory Council during his time as Manhattan borough president.

“He would come into our meetings sometimes and sit and talk to us about being borough president and how hard it is and how you have to make sure to take care of everyone,” St. Hilaire told CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas on Tuesday.

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A rare look into policymaking and the complex issues facing the city shaped St. Hilaire’s future.

“He actually put the original battery in my back to make sure that community service was first and foremost in my life,” St. Hilaire said.


For Katrina Adams, it was a mutual love of tennis that allowed her to forge a bond with Dinkins, who she considers as a second father.

A former tennis pro, Adams first met the former mayor while on tour and then while serving on the board of the United States Tennis Association.

“I was one of three Black people in the room at the time. Mayor Dinkins kind of took me under his wing in the boardroom, taught me the ropes,” Adams said.

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Dinkins helped secure the lease for the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center and passed legislation that allowed for its expansion.

He rarely missed a US Open.

“Whether it was having a cocktail at a reception or on the tennis court or in the board room, he never changed,” Adams said.

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And it’s that demeanor that set him apart in politics, even when being criticized.

“People talk about unrest and some of the conditions in the city now and they say I think about the ’80s, of those ’80s, and they talk about Mayor Dinkins,” former Gov. David Paterson said.

Paterson knew Dinkins for practically his entire life. His father, Basil Paterson, was Dinkins’ close friend.

And Paterson wants to set the record straight.

“He took office in 1990 and the mortality rate was over 2,000 when he got there for six years. Within two years, he knocked it down 25% with his Safe Streets, Safe Cities Act,” Paterson said.

The Municipal Building bears Mayor Dinkins’ name, in the shadow of flags that are now flowing at half staff.

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History may provide a more accurate reflection of his legacy and the impact he made on so many.