Despite Tumultuous and Sometimes Contentious Relationship, Black Leaders in New York say Ed Koch Earned Their Respect

4798Ed Koch's first term got off to a rocky start with the African-American community.

Ed Koch's relationship with the city's African-American community was tumultuous and often contentious, but many black leaders say he still earned their respect. NY1's Jon Weinstein filed the following report.
One of the first things he did was close Sydenham Hospital in Harlem to save money.

"That stayed with us, with this community, that Ed Koch closed Sydenham," said Assemblyman Keith Wright of Manhattan. "And that's with us still to this day."

Charles Rangel served with Koch in Congress and later supported his first run for mayor. But eventually, the two would differ sharply, with Rangel switching his allegiance to David Dinkins, the man who forced Koch out of his final race for mayor.

Still, Rangel said Koch proved his heart was in the right place in matters of race.

"I never doubted his depth of sincerity for equality," Rangel said. "Three times, he had gone to the South. Three times, he had endangered his life for civil rights."

But many black leaders gave Koch poor marks for handling racial conflict in his own city. He was criticized for his response to racial violence in Howard Beach in 1986, and for his response to the Yousef Hawkins shooting just before the 1989 Democratic primary.

"Yousef Hawkins and the Howard Beach situation really gave black folks a reason to vote for David Dinkins," Wright said.

Source: NY1 | Jon Weinstein
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