Home / Full timeline / Political leaders assess the victories of L. Douglas Wilder, Virginia’s first Black governor, and David Dinkins, New York City’s first Black mayor, as it pertains to the current racial climate.
Political leaders assess the victories of L. Douglas Wilder, Virginia’s first Black governor, and David Dinkins, New York City’s first Black mayor, as it pertains to the current racial climate.
1989 (Nov 8 - 20)
Political leaders, political analysts, journalists, and other commentators assessed the historic victories of L. Douglas Wilder as the nation's first elected Black governor in Virginia, and the election of David Dinkins as New York City's first Black mayor. After Dinkins won the Democratic primary in September 1989, syndicated columnist Carl Rowan suggested that Dinkins's victory was "desperately needed proof that resurgent racism in America can be stopped wherever political, business and other leaders ask the people to walk away from the dark side of man's animal impulses." In an editorial on November 9, the Wall Street Journal said, "There's irony in the failure of Republican candidates to learn the lessons of the Reagan presidency: David Dinkins ... and Virginia's Doug Wilder... ran as 'moderate Democrats, promising to hold the line on taxes and spending." The newspaper also reported that Wilder "kept civil rights leader Jesse Jackson at arm's length during a year-long campaign that stressed his mainstream appeal to white voters. Wilder appealed for economic development, not economic empowerment, and talked about racial issues only under duress." Cynthia Tucker, an Black columnist for the Atlanta Journal Constitution, wrote that "Mr. Wilder has apparently overcome the color question with a strong pro-choice position.... And, [he] has now provided a guidebook to other candidates of color who wish to serve beyond their traditional constituencies."