Joyce Burrows Dinkins, Former First Lady of New York City, Dies At 90

attends the Mandela Day Gala Dinner hosted by 46664 and the Nelson Mandela Foundation at Grand Central Terminal on July 15, 2009 in New York City.

Joyce Burrows Dinkins, Former First Lady of New York City, Dies At 90

She was the first Black woman to hold the position.

Published 2 weeks ago

Written by Nicole Duncan-Smith

New York City’s first African American first lady, Joyce Burrows Dinkins, died on Sunday, October 11, reports her husband’s office. She was 90 years old.

Dinkins served as FLONYC from 1990 to 1993, when her husband David Dinkins became the first and only Black mayor of the city that never sleeps.

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On behalf of the family, Mayor Dinkins’ Operations Manager, Lynda Hamilton, released a statement announcing the news:

"Joyce B Dinkins peacefully transitioned from this life, at home in the company of her family, on October 11, 2020. A memorial service will be held sometime after the COVID crisis ends. While our city will miss this incredible human being who personified grace, compassion, and love, her family will strive to honor her legacy," Hamilton said.

The statement also detailed Dinkins’ incredible life and legacy:

"Joyce Burrows Dinkins, the youngest of two daughters of Daniel Burrows and Elaine Nelthrop Burrows, was born in 1930. Daniel Burrows was a prominent entrepreneur and political figure in Harlem,” the statement reads. “Joyce was raised and educated in Harlem and graduated from George Washington High School. She then attended Howard University in Washington, D.C., where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology in 1953."

“As First Lady of New York City, Joyce promoted education, health care, and the arts for children. She served as honorary chair of the Mayor's Task Force on Child Abuse, chairperson of ‘The First Day Back to School’ a multi-media service campaign, and honorary chairperson of New York City's Children's Week,” it continues. “But her primary concern was always increasing the literacy of New York's children."

Many took social media to send their condolences.

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Attorney General of New York Letitia James posted, “Joyce Dinkins dedicated her time in public service to making New York City a better place to grow up, and her work will live on. My deepest condolences to Mayor Dinkins and the entire Dinkins family.”

“We lost a great woman, Mrs. Joyce Dinkins. She was a quiet but strong committed woman who made us sit up w/ pride. She will be missed and always remembered. I talked w/ Mayor Dinkins to salute her Spirit, May she rest in Power. Our First Lady forever!” Rev. Al Sharpton tweeted.

Secretary and former first lady, Hillary Clinton, also posted on Twitter, “Bill and I are so saddened to learn of Joyce B. Dinkins’ passing and send all our love to Mayor Dinkins, their children Donna and David, and the entire family. Joyce was an incredible First Lady of New York, advocate for children, leader, and friend. May she rest in peace.”

“Very sad to learn of the passing of Joyce Dinkins. Born in NYC, she spent her time as its First Lady with grace & purpose—dedicated to education and a champion for literacy,” the current Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo wrote. “My deepest condolences go out to Mayor Dinkins, their children David and Donna, and all her loved ones.”

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In lieu of flowers, the Dinkins family is asking for donations that can be made to the Joyce B Dinkins Children's Collection at Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the Howard University Scholarship Fund, and Calvary Hospital Hospice Care.

(Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images)


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NOVEMBER 3, 2020