This ‘Gang of Four’ Was a Force to be Reckoned With

east harlem skyline
Adé Hennis
October 2, 2023

David Dinkins, Basil Paterson, Charles Rangel, and Percy Sutton were the members of what came to be known as the “Gang of Four.” They were cynically named after China’s Gang of Four, who were Chinese communist party members who implemented harsh policies for their people. But Harlem’s Gang of Four turned the name into something much more positive.


Dinkins once said: “We are all foot soldiers on the march to freedom.” Not only did he create programs that provided grants for low-income students, he fought to take away funds from businesses that did business in South Africa during Apartheid, standing up for his people around the globe.

Paterson fought for essential workers, helping improve the labor market in New York and around the country. Both Rangel and Sutton represented and/or advised civil rights activists as lawyers. Clearly, all four men fought for a good cause, but they knew they could do even more together.

The four men would bring resources and services to the Harlem community while also transitioning to politics, all serving pivotal roles in various roles that helped pave the way for future Black politicians in a city that needed them.

The Gang of Four helped uplift the community of Harlem during and after their coalition, and their willingness to unify forces showed that there is strength in numbers, and we can build upon that. Who’s doing good work in your community that you can support?

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