Chirlane I. McCray (born November 29, 1954) is a writer, editor, communications professional, and political figure. She has published poetry and worked in politics as a speechwriter. Married to current New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, she is the First Lady of New York City. They have two children, Chiara and Dante. They moved from their home in Park Slope, Brooklyn, into Gracie Mansion, the traditional residence of New York City mayors.
McCray was born in and spent her early years in Springfield, Massachusetts. Her mother was an assembly worker at an electronics factory, and her father was an inventory clerk at a military base. She is of Bajan and St. Lucian descent, but traces her grandmother's last name to Ghana.
When she was ten years old, her family moved to Longmeadow, Massachusetts, becoming only the second black family in the area. Other families in the neighborhood circulated petitions demanding they leave.
In high school, McCray was for a time the only black student in her entire school. McCray cites this early experience with racism and bullying as part of the reason she began to write, using her poetry as an outlet for her anger. She also wrote a column for her school newspaper, in which she denounced classmates for their racism.
McCray enrolled at Wellesley College in 1972. While studying there, she became a member of the Combahee River Collective, a black feminist lesbian organization, which inspired her to write prose and poetry.
After graduation, she moved to New York City to work for Redbook. She published an essay in Essence magazine in 1979, entitled "I Am a Lesbian", an essay described as "groundbreaking" for how a black woman discussed her sexuality in a black magazine. The purpose of the essay was to "dispel the myth that there are no gay black people". Some of her poetry is included in Home Girls: A Black Feminist Anthology.
In 1991, McCray entered politics. She worked as a speechwriter for the mayor David Dinkins. During the Clinton administration, she worked for the New York Foreign Press Center as a public affairs specialist. She also worked as a speech writer for the state comptroller, Carl McCall, and the city comptroller, Bill Thompson.
McCray with spouse, Bill de Blasio, and their two children.
In 2004, she left Thompson's office to work in the private sector. She worked for five years at Maimonides Medical Center. She also worked for Citigroup in its public relations department for six months, before deciding it was "not a good fit". During her husband's campaign for mayor of New York City in the 2013 election, she edited his speeches and helped interview candidates for staff positions.
When de Blasio became mayor, he hired publicist Rachel Noerdlinger to be McCray's chief of staff.
McCray met Bill de Blasio in 1991, when they both worked at New York City Hall for Mayor David Dinkins. At the time, de Blasio was an aide to a deputy mayor and McCray was a speechwriter. McCray and de Blasio were married in 1994 in Prospect Park, Brooklyn. Asked about her sexuality, McCray has stated that she hates "labels". In 2012, when asked about her 1979 essay, she commented: "In the 1970s, I identified as a lesbian and wrote about it. In 1991, I met the love of my life, married him."
McCray and de Blasio have a daughter and a son, and lived in Park Slope, Brooklyn, until their 2014 move into Gracie Mansion.more » « less