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Percy Pinkney: served Gov. Jerry Brown, Sen. Dianne Feinstein

Funeral services for Percy Pinkney, an influential African-American political figure in California, were held Saturday, March 26, 2016

Percy Pinkney, influential California political figure, dies at 78

LOS ANGELES — Funeral services for Percy Pinkney, an influential African-American political figure in California, will be held Saturday, March 26 at 11 a.m. in the Mount Vernon Memorial Park and Mortuary, 8201 Greenback Lane in Fair Oaks, Calif. His burial is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. Pinkney, who died of natural causes on March 18 at age 78 was never elected to political office, yet he was always close enough to the politicians to direct their attention to the needs and aspirations of the people they represented.

ComptonHerald.com | obituaries

ComptonHerald.com obituaries

Coming off a seven-year stint as special assistant to then Gov. Jerry Brown, Pinkney became the first person Sen. Dianne Feinstein hired for her staff upon her 1992 election.

“I first met Percy when I was campaigning for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1969,” Feinstein said. “We became tried and true friends. Percy’s loyalty was unmatched and our friendship spanned nearly 50 years,” Feinstein continued. “Percy served as my Los Angeles field representative for 22 years, retiring in 2014. He was responsible for overseeing issues affecting the African-American community but he dutifully served all communities and every person he encountered,” Feinstein said.

“He was such a caring person; it was amazing,”  the senator continued. “His compassion for others never ceased. No issue was too small or too big for Percy to tackle. When Percy became engaged on an issue, he didn’t rest until the problem was solved. Percy represented the best of public service — an unwavering devotion to the people of California and making their lives better. It was an honor to be Percy’s friend and I will miss him dearly,” Feinstein said.

Pinkney, who was born in McComb, Miss., was a U.S. Army veteran who earned his bachelor’s degree at San Francisco State and his master’s degree in social work at Lone Mountain College in San Francisco. He worked for twelve years on behalf of San Francisco’s young people, as founder of a community youth center and as a social worker specializing in gang intervention and diversion programs.

Pinkney has been duly honored as a legendary leader in California politics for almost 40 years, during which he worked closely with a wide variety of stakeholders, elected officials, community and interfaith leaders to improve the quality of life for all citizens in California. Chief among his legendary endeavors:  organizing, founding and serving as the statewide president of the Black American Political Assn. of California (BAPAC), a large political grassroots organization that consists of 55 chapters and more than 60,000 members.

BAPAC operates a leadership institute that trains young people how to become leaders and gives scholarships to disadvantaged youth to help them complete college. The institute uses a publication entitled “The Lonely One,” which is a manual and textbook for street and community workers written by Pinkney. According to Berkeley officials, it is the only textbook on “street work” published in the state of California.

Pinkney is survived by his wife, Grace Pinkney and his sons, Darrell Pinkney and Corey Pinkney. Percy was preceded in death by his eldest son, Percy Pinkney Jr.

Betty Pleasant is a contributing writer and columnist for the Compton Herald. She was formerly a reporter at the Los Angeles Sentinel and a columnist at the Los Angeles Wave.

2 COMMENTS
  • Chuck Pineda April 28, 2016

    For all to know: Chairman Percy Pinkney served as the Chairman of the Youthful Offender Parole Board of the State of California. He learned the role quickly and was extremely supportive of the Civil Service Parole Board Judges, and those appointed by the Governor.

    Even though I lost many Democratic Primary Elections for Governor of California he remained cordial and respectful. Yes, even when I ran against his boss Diane Feinstein.

    In conclusion, he never gave up hope for those young black men committed to the California Youth Authority. And he was fair with all the other wards who came before him. He will be missed as he lived in that beatiful pocket along the American River called La Riviera and was a neighbor of ours.

    I’ll always remember seeing Percy walking with at lease four newspapers in his hands. He was an intensive reader of those daily newspapers. If I saw him I would give him a ride to his house and ask him, “Percy why do you read so many newspapers?” He would just say, ” Lots of things going on.”

    Our condolence to the members of the Pinckney family.

    Charles “Chuck” Pineda, Jr.
    Parole Board Judge (Ret.)
    La Riviera,California 95827

  • Thomasina Reed April 12, 2016

    BAPAC will host a Memorial for Percy Pinkney on April 23, 2016 at 11 a.m. at First AME Church, 2270 S. Harvard, L.A., CA

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