The first time I met David Dinkins, he was the mayor of New York City and I was a 30-year-old photographer sent by the Associated Press to photograph some forgotten event in City Hall in 1990. I looked for the image, but it is long lost. But that first meeting stayed with me for the last 30 years. His charm and warmth toward me was a nice feeling.

I even remember him asking why I left AP for AFP while he was mayor. So I guess I made an impression on him as one of the dozens of photographers sent to document the events of his tenure.

Sportsball 2015 - Mayor David Dinkins and Mark D Phillips
Sportsball 2015 – Mayor David Dinkins and Mark D Phillips

I came to know David Dinkins through the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health. Every year at the organization’s Sportsball event, we would reminisce about our paths crossing over the decades I have worked in New York City. He was always gracious and loved to talk about when I photographed him with Nelson Mandela and Arthur Ashe. He was a gentleman.

His wife Joyce, who proceeded him in death a little over a month ago at the age of 89, was the same. She welcomed me to their circle and was a beautiful soul.

As New York City’s first Black mayor, he will go down in history as a forerunner to the first Black president. I liked to think of him as a friend.

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