A Letter from David Dinkins
Former Board Chair
I have been arrested twice in my life – once in 1984 and once in 1999.
Not as a rebellious teenager or a 20-something street hustler. Not because I was a thief or a murderer. The first time I was protesting Nelson Mandela’s imprisonment. The second time the wrongful killing of a 23-year-old man in New York City.
It has been 15 years since February 4th, 1999 when the world’s spotlight was on 1157 Wheeler Avenue in the Bronx where the NYPD shot an innocent, unarmed Amadou Diallo 41 times in the vestibule of his apartment building.
Fifty-four days later, outside of Police Headquarters in lower Manhattan, I was charged with disorderly conduct for protesting that inconceivable crime. I wasn’t alone. Rallies and protests were frequent and ongoing. Prayer vigils were held and candles were lit. Other politicians, celebrities and public figures came out in droves contributing their voices to the community’s, which was one of outrage and disbelief.
The community’s love rallied around a mother, and a mother’s love rallied around the legacy of her child.
When Kadiatou asked me to Chair the foundation formed in her son’s name, I was honored.
The Foundation’s mission embraces Amadou’s humanitarian spirit and the academic dreams he held for his life, while also remaining committed to finding proactive, collaborative solutions to remedy and eradicate the social and systemic issues that resulted in his death.
It is with great enthusiasm that I write this note to you introducing The Amadou Diallo Foundation’s vision for 2014.
It is our vision to host and facilitate a necessary, national dialogue on race and police community relations via panel discussions, workshops, seminars and other educational events. By calling on all stakeholders in our society – policy makers, law enforcement, community activists, parents, youth, Academia – I firmly believe with conscious, compassionate conversation and effective communication, we can find common ground and enact change. I will keep you abreast of these events as they happen.
Bruce Springsteen wrote the song “American Skin” after Amadou Diallo’s death in 1999. He rededicated the song to Trayvon Martin after his in 2012. Let’s not have that song dedicated to anyone else.
Now, more than ever, with the devastatingly drastic number of police shootings and other racially motivated crimes capturing news headlines, The Amadou Diallo Foundation is needed.
Now, more than ever, with the cost of college tuition often a daunting deterrent to pursuing higher education, The Amadou Diallo Foundation is needed.
I see that need as a call to action, which is why now, more than ever, the Board of Directors and I are asking for you to join us.