Late NYC Mayor David Dinkins remembered as friend, ‘fighter’ at tribute

Mayor David Dinkins was a “fighter for what was right,” who basked in the love of adoring citizens and helped usher in New York’s next generation of leaders, local dignitaries recalled during a celebration of the late mayor’s life in Harlem.

“There is a whole generation in this city that got our start because of David Dinkins,” Mayor de Blasio said from Al Sharpton’s National Action Network headquarters in Upper Manhattan, at an event attended by former US Rep. Charles Rangel and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, among others.

“They got a helping hand from David Dinkins. They got that word of encouragement. There’s a generation of people who believed they could make a difference because they saw David Dinkins do it first. He has a human legacy you can feel right here in this room,” de Blasio said.

Dinkins, the Big Apple’s first black mayor who served during an era when the city was gripped by crime and racial strife, died Monday. He was 93.

Dinkins was like a “brother,” said Rangel, who noted the mayor’s tendency for long conversations with constituents — and how proud he was to lead New York City.

“He was so sincere about loving people. So sincere that I just stopped going out publicly with him because of the time he would spend with people that really didn’t like him — but loved him — and the time he would spend with children, I would never get a chance to get in a restaurant,” Rangel quipped.

“I could see in his heart that he enjoyed to be able to say he was the mayor of the City of New York.”

Sharpton touted Dinkins for inheriting a city that was “broke and divided,” and addressing his enemies with “grace and dignity.”

“I have known him since I was 16, and David Dinkins was a fierce fighter for what was right, he had his own way of fighting,” Sharpton said.

De Blasio, who worked for the Dinkins administration, recalled Nelson Mandela’s historic 1990 visit to City Hall and a Yankee Stadium rally for the South African leader as a “beautiful, powerful moment,” and credited Dinkins for welcoming Mandela to the city just five months after he was freed from 27 years in prison.

“It was breathtaking,” de Blasio said. “It felt like . . . time stood still.”