The Rev. Al Sharpton, president of National Action Network: “National Action Network and I are heartbroken over the passing of Bill Lynch. We lost a brilliant political strategist and the ‘Godfather’ of the Harlem political establishment. Bill was not only one of the most astute political minds in the country, he was a political father to many and worked with National Action Network for over 20 years on some of the most pertinent issues of our time.
“Bill believed in mentoring young people, and it came easy for him because he believed in putting people and community first. He said: ‘When you do that, you always win.’
“Bill Lynch personally mentored countless young strategists who now hold key positions, including National Action Network’s own National Field Director LaMon Bland. Bill has been a revered advisor to some of the great humanitarians and elected officials of our time.”
Assemblyman Keith Wright: “New York and the entire nation lost a true virtuoso yesterday, whose impact and legacy will live on for generations. It was Bill who gave me my first job in politics, running the Harlem office of then-Borough President David Dinkins. Since then, I can recall strategizing with him on most any topic. Bill was also the engineer behind my father’s successful campaign for Supreme Court in 1979, of which Harlem, the city of New York and the Black community is forever grateful.
Our friendship withstood many years of politics, and I loved him dearly. A brilliant football player, an invaluable mentor and one of the greatest labor organizers that will ever be, Bill Lynch will be missed by many.”
State Sen. Eric Adams: “Our great city would not function without people like Bill Lynch. Without ever moving toward the spotlight, he tirelessly worked behind the scenes at the MLK Democratic Club and for councilwomen on New York’s behalf throughout his remarkable life as the engine of so many efforts critical to improving this city. Personally, he offered me not only wisdom, but also inspiration from his life of service and the warmth of his friendship. He will be deeply missed, but his legacy will live on in the daily lives of the New Yorkers touched by his work, and in the hearts of those of us who had the honor and privilege to know him.”
NAACP Chairman Roslyn M. Brock: “Bill Lynch always embodied the spirit of the NAACP. He was a tireless worker, dedicated to social justice and never sought the spotlight. He will truly be missed, but his legacy lives on in the many young organizers and activists he mentored.”
NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous: “Bill was the godfather of the Black organizers in the civil and human rights movement in the United States. He was also my personal mentor. In the 15 years I knew Bill, there was not a single major decision I made that I did not consult him on. He was a leader’s leader, the one to whose judgment we all deferred.
“He made David Dinkins the first Black mayor of New York City, David Paterson the first Black governor of New York and he paved the way for the first Black president of the United States. He played an immeasurable role in fostering the spirit of cooperation that defines the relationships between major civil rights leaders and between the Civil Rights Movement and the labor movement. Bill may have been the greatest living organizer still active in our times.”
NAACP Region II Director Marvin Bing: “Not many men would embrace a young street kid who never graduated college but believed he could change the world. Bill was like a father I never had. He believed in me when many laughed. He walked me through my mistakes and gave me confidence. He always said keep organizing and be true to the community. I will spend many nights crying, but I will do my best to live up to the ‘Rumpled Genius’ mission: to bring economic justice and social change to people and places where they never believed they had a chance. I will always love him and remember him.”
NAACP New York State Conference President Hazel Dukes: “This is a sad day, not just for the Lynch family but for me and for the country as a whole. Bill’s political advice and wisdom has reached across this nation. He was a compassionate, visionary individual who leaves a void for us in the community, but we will continue to carry on his legacy by doing the things he taught us.”
Mayor Michael Bloomberg: “Bill Lynch stood at the center of one of our city’s most important moments: the election of David Dinkins as New York City’s first African-American mayor. He sought to better our city by bringing people together and served as deputy mayor because he wanted to make a difference for New Yorkers. He spent his life passionately pursuing his ideals—civil rights and social justice.
“Many of the most influential political leaders—here in the city and also on the national level—sought his counsel. He lived a remarkable life, and my thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
Comptroller John Liu: “Bill Lynch is a true friend and mentor to generations of countless mentors, leaders, trailblazers, organizers and activists. Words cannot express the deep grief felt throughout New York, including the Team Liu family, of which Uncle Bill is the patriarch. I would not be where nor who I am today without Bill Lynch.”
Assemblywoman Inez Barron: “I am saddened to hear of the passing of a person of such significance to the fight and the accomplishments that he waged on behalf of our civil and our human rights. Bill Lynch was truly a genius and he leaves a strong legacy with all that he has done for the people.”
Councilman Charles Barron: “I worked with Bill Lynch during the Free South Africa Movement in 1984, and we were arrested protesting against apartheid. He was considered an amazing genius with powerful labor connections.
“Thanks, Bill, for orchestrating the campaign leading to the election of the first Black mayor of New York City, the Honorable David Dinkins. Rest in peace, my brother, for a job well done. He will be sorely missed.”
President of the Black Institute Bertha Lewis: “I am heartbroken. Today, a great man has passed, and I am deeply saddened by the loss of yet another mentor and friend to our community. A lot of what I know about politics and organizing, i learned from Bill Lynch. He was undoubtedly one of the greatest political minds of our era and will forever be known as a giant in politics.
“He was a legend on the gridiron and on the gritty streets of Harlem, and his passing creates a huge chasm in our city and our nations political fabric. I am honored to have known, learned and worked with him. Bill was a master political architect who was a key link between the Civil Rights Movement and electoral politics. The effects of his genius touched as far as South Africa and its abolishment of Apartheid, and the world mourns his passing. The hearts and minds of the Black Institute are with his family and our friends at Bill Lynch Associates.”
Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez: “I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Bill Lynch; the New York City community has lost a lion today. Bill will be remembered as a pioneer in the political world, dedicating his life and career to ensuring that New York has representatives of color at all levels of government. Bill paved the way for so many of us who believe that only through coalition building will our communities will be empowered. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and close friends tonight. He will be sorely missed.”
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer: “Bill Lynch was a giant in so many ways, and the news of his passing brings sadness to all of us who knew him, who worked with him and respected his enormous achievements. He was a prominent and historic figure in New York politics, an immensely talented political consultant who guided David Dinkins to victory in his 1989 mayoral race.
“He built an extraordinary coalition in that campaign, and the ability to forge consensus became a hallmark of his multi-faceted career: He served Mayor Dinkins as deputy mayor for intergovernmental relations, becoming his chief aide and adviser; he helped bring the Democratic National Convention to New York City in 1992; and he organized the city’s welcome ceremony for Nelson Mandela.
“Bill Lynch fought long and hard for racial justice, and he was a tireless champion of the city’s working men and women. We will miss his courage, his intelligence and his commitment to serving the people of New York. Like many, I have lost a dear friend today, and my thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn: “Today, we mourn the loss of a true champion for progressive causes and one of the sharpest minds that New York government and politics has ever seen. Bill Lynch dedicated his life to making New York City a better place.
“As deputy mayor under Mayor Dinkins, Bill played a critical role in facilitating Nelson Mandela’s historic visit to New York City in 1990. Bill was a fighter for equality and the embodiment of a New Yorker: tough, smart and fiercely loyal to the city he loved. Bill was my friend. He was a one-of-a-kind New Yorker, and he will be sorely missed.”