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Cleveland loses a legend in Arnold R. Pinkney

James W. Wade III | 1/15/2014, 9:18 a.m. | Updated on 1/16/2014, 12:21 p.m.
“Arnold Pinkney leaves behind a legacy of public service and dedication to others that should serve as a testament to ...
Arnold R. Pinkney

Cleveland political strategist and civil rights activist Arnold R. Pinkney died Monday. Pinkney was known for his great political achievements including helping manage Vice President Hubert Humphrey and Rev. Jesse Jackson’s 1984 bid for president of the United States.

Pinkney graduated from South High School in his hometown of Youngstown and demonstrated his dedication and commitment to the health and welfare of the city.

If you ever had a chance to talk with Pinkney, he would have told you that his plans after high school were to graduate from college, become a lawyer and play Major League Baseball. He batted 2 for 3 and managed to become a major league businessman instead. Pinkney was a political strategist and public servant known throughout this country.

He was a co-founder of The Pinkney-Perry Insurance Agency, Ohio’s oldest and largest minority owned insurance company with 52 years of service.

“I met Arnold over 50 years ago. We both were trying to sell each other some insurance,” said Charles Perry, Pinkney’s business partner of 46 years. “I will miss him. Arnold leaves a legacy. No one in my lifetime will be able to accomplish the things he’s done. I hope a lot of young people pay attention to what he has done.”

Serving a long career in politics, Pinkney advised everyone including Ohio’s first Black member of Congress. He was campaign manager for Cleveland’s first Black Mayor Carl Stokes, Democratic Gov. Richard Celeste and most recently Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson.

According to former Congressman Louis Stokes, “Pinkney’s political mind was unmatched. I treasure the long friendship I enjoyed with Arnold Pinkney. Both my brother Carl and I were the beneficiaries of his brilliant political strategies in our elections. As a political strategist, he was the best in the country. He was a leader whose political acumen and dedication to Black political progress changed Cleveland. He had a great commitment to the education of Cleveland school children.”

Stokes continued saying, “Most Black elected and formerly elected officials in Cleveland owe their elections to some involvement, advice or counsel from Arnold Pinkney. As a leader, husband, father, businessman, political strategist and friend, Arnold Pinkney set an example of excellence. I admired him.”

Pinkney’s long time friend, attorney George Forbes, remembers when they got started in politics. “Arnold was a friend and a man I could rely on to get the job done. Even when he was the Cleveland School Board president and I was on Cleveland City Council, we helped pave the way for Blacks in the city.”

Pinkney even ran for mayor in 1971 and 1975.

He once shared with me how he enjoyed working with his company betpin & associates and how much he loved his church, Olivet Institutional Baptist Church.

His pastor, Rev. Dr. Otis Moss Jr. said, “I remember meeting Arnold while he was the trustee board president for Central State University, where he orchestrated a campaign to help save and rebuild the school. Arnold pulled together the alumni and Black elected officials. It was his leadership that made it happen. There has been nothing of great importance in the city that my friend Arnold Pinkney has not been involved in. He believed in education, economics and civil rights and will greatly be missed. He was the first chair of the OM Hoover education fund that was among the first ministries I started when coming to Olivet.”