Search transcripts:    Advanced Search
Notable New     Yorkers
Select     Notable New Yorker

Kenneth ClarkKenneth Clark
Photo Gallery

Session:         Page of 763

and he would bring them into his firm, train them, quietly and gently, and I suppose the most important training that Ben offered was that of a model of integrity, probity, balance.

Out of his firm came a number of black judges, such as Kenneth Phipps, a young man who died prematurely; Fritz Alexander. David Dinkins, who's now very very well-known in New York City politics. And I think he's a clerk, New York City Clerk, something like that -- he is in charge of marriage licenses and things of that sort.


Do I recall correctly that he was a prospect for deputy mayor?


You're absolutely right, the same Dave Dinkins. This was a major contribution of Ben Dyett's, to select and bring into his firm young black lawyers. And I wasn't a lawyer, but somehow Ben established this kind of relationship with me. And let me add that it was without the slightest bit of condescension. I mean, he had this wonderful capacity to influence younger men in ways which they could accept. You know, he wasnot preachy. He was not a pontificator. He was just a warm, wonderful person, with whom I felt I could always go and get his perspective on problems, and he would write me letters or call me up, and comment on something which I 'd said or done.

Whenever I was in any kind of public controversy, Ben was in the background, giving me his reactions to it, and this didn't mean always a pat on the back or congratulations. I mean, it was commenting, in a balanced and thoughtful way.

© 2006 Columbia University Libraries | Oral History Research Office | Rights and Permissions | Help