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Randall Pinkston

Broadcast journalist Randall Pinkston was born on March 3, 1950 in Yazoo County, Mississippi. His mother’s aunt, a retired domestic worker, and her husband, a construction worker, raised Pinkston as their son in Jackson, Mississippi.  As a child, Pinkston was fascinated by radio broadcast news. After graduating from Lanier High School in 1968, Pinkston attended Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, where he joined the campus radio station, WESU-FM. Pinkston left Wesleyan University after the death of his grand-uncle and completed his undergraduate studies at Millsaps College, where he received his B.A. degree in history in 1973.  While attending college, Pinkston worked part-time at WJDX-FM and AM, and, in 1971, was hired as Saturday night anchor and producer for WLBT-TV in Jackson.

In August of 1973, after attending the Michelle Clark Fellowship Program for Minority Journalists at Columbia University, Pinkston was promoted to WLBT’s 6:00 PM newscast, the first African American to anchor the #1 newscast at Mississippi’s #1 television station. In 1974, he accepted a position with Post-Newsweek Station WJXT-TV, a CBS affiliate in Jacksonville, Florida, as the urban affairs director and producer. In 1976, Pinkston transferred to Post-Newsweek’s WFSB-TV in Hartford, Connecticut, where he held posts as anchor, reporter and producer of public affairs programs.

While working in Hartford, he earned his J.D. degree from the University of Connecticut School of Law in 1980. That same year, Pinkston was hired as a correspondent with WCBS-TV, where he worked until 1990 when he was appointed as a CBS News White House correspondent. Pinkston reported on stories of national and international significance from the Persian Gulf War to the nomination of Justice Clarence Thomas. In 1994, he moved to the CBS New York news bureau and served as a correspondent for CBS Evening News as well as a contributor, reporter and correspondent for other CBS news broadcasts, including CBS Reports, CBS 48 Hours, and CBS Sunday Morning.  In 2013, Pinkston ended a thirty-three year career with CBS. His final report included an interview with Myrlie Evers Williams on Medgar Evers’ efforts to open broadcasting to minorities. 

After CBS, Pinkston worked as an adjunct professor at the City University of New York School of Journalism and The University of Mississippi Meek School of Journalism, and as a freelance journalist for Al Jazeera America.

Pinkston’s work was first recognized by the Great New York Safety Council for his reporting on underage drunk driving and its influence in the shaping of New York state law on underage drinking and driving. He is the recipient of a national Emmy award and an Edward R. Murrow Award for his work on CBS Reports’ “Legacy of Shame,” and two other national Emmy awards for reporting on the death of Princess Diana and the TWA Flight 800 disaster. He has also received a Community Service Award from the Society of Professional Journalists for a report on the aids crisis among African Americans.

Pinkston lives with his wife, Patricia McLain, in Teaneck, New Jersey.

Randall Pinkston was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 16, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.145

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/25/2014

Last Name

Pinkston

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Randall

Organizations
Schools

Lanier High School

Millsaps College

University of Connecticut School of Law

First Name

W.

Birth City, State, Country

Holly Bluff

HM ID

PIN07

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

Saint Martin

Favorite Quote

Learn The Lesson And Find The Blessing.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New Jersey

Birth Date

3/3/1950

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Englewood

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Pie (Lemon Meringue)

Short Description

Broadcast journalist Randall Pinkston (1950 - ) is a three-time national Emmy Award winner, worked at WCBS-TV and CBS News for thirty-three years.

Employment

WJDX Radio

WLBT-TV

WJXT-TV

WFSB-TV

WCBS-TV

CBS News

CBS News New York

City University of New York School of Journalism

University of Mississippi Meek School of Journalism

Al Jazeera America

Favorite Color

Blue

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Randall Pinkston's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Randall Pinkston lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Randall Pinkston talks about being placed in the custody of his grandaunt and uncle

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Randall Pinkston describes his grandaunt's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Randall Pinkston describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Randall Pinkston describes living in Jackson, Mississippi with his grandaunt and uncle

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Randall Pinkston talks about relocating to Holly Bluff, Mississippi with his biological mother and great-grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Randall Pinkston describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood in Yazoo County and Jackson, Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Randall Pinkston describes the origin of his interest in broadcasting

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Randall Pinkston describes the lessons he learned from his grandaunt

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Randall Pinkston describes lessons he learned from his granduncle

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Randall Pinkston talks about the George Washington Carver Branch Library in Jackson, Mississippi

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Randall Pinkston describes his family's meals and diet

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Randall Pinkston remembers his great-grandmother's cooking

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Randall Pinkston talks about his grandaunt's medicinal gardens and homeopathic medicinal recipes

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Randall Pinkston remembers his great-grandmother curing an earache for his biological mother

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Randall Pinkston describes his experience at Hall Elementary School in Yazoo County, Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Randall Pinkston describes establishing a love for reading

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Randall Pinkston remembers joining Mount Helm Baptist Church in Jackson, Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Randall Pinkston remembers an influential Sunday school teacher

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Randall Pinkston lists his elementary schools

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Randall Pinkston remembers Emmet Till's death in 1955

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Randall Pinkston remembers racist confrontations at the zoo and on his paper route

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Randall Pinkston talks about his participation in the March Against Fear in 1966

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Randall Pinkston describes his experience at William H. Lanier High School in Jackson, Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Randall Pinkston talks about his participation in high school enrichment programs at Tougaloo College and Jackson State University

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Randall Pinkston talks briefly about Freedom Summer of 1964

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Randall Pinkston describes his college application process

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Randall Pinkston describes his first job in radio at WJDX-FM and in broadcast journalism at WLBT-TV

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Vernon Smith talks about the death of his granduncle in 1969

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Randall Pinkston describes fighting the Draft Board and avoiding the Vietnam War

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Randall Pinkston describes working simultaneously in radio and television as a full-time student

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Randall Pinkston talks about Medgar Evers' appearance on WLBT-TV in 1963

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Randall Pinkston talks about United Church of Christ v. Federal Communications Commission, 1966 and becoming an anchor for the 6 o'clock news

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Randall Pinkston talks about William Dilday, the first African American named general manager of a network affiliate television station

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Randall Pinkston talks about graduating from Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi in 1973

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Randall Pinkston talks about his experience in the Michele Clark Fellowship Program for Minority Journalists

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Randall Pinkston talks about leaving WLBT-TV channel 3

Tape: 3 Story: 13 - Randall Pinkston talks about an offer to join WJXT-TV Post-Newsweek Station in Jacksonville, Florida

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Randall Pinkston describes the effect of the 1996 Telecommunications Reform Act

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Randall Pinkston talks briefly about African American journalist Bob Teague

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Randall Pinkston describes what he learned as an anchor at WLBT-TV in Jackson, Mississippi

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Randall Pinkston describes his relationship with Jim Snyder at WJXT-TV, a Post-Newsweek Station in Jacksonville, Florida

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Randall Pinkston remembers advice he received from Max Robinson, the nation's first African American broadcast network news anchor

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Randall Pinkston remembers the charter meeting of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ)

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Randall Pinkston talks about the news team at Channel 9 in Washington, D.C. and Channel 9's sale by Post-Newsweek Stations

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Randall Pinkston explains why he decided to go to law school and describes the history of Church Street in Jackson, Mississippi

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Randall Pinkston remembers turning down an early job opportunity at a Nashville, Tennessee television station

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Randall Pinkston talks about joining WSFB-TV in Hartford, Connecticut in 1976 and being admitted into law school at the University of Connecticut School of Law

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Randall Pinkston describes making an attempt to buy channel 61 in Hartford, Connecticut, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Randall Pinkston describes how he got a job with CBS channel 2 in New York City

Tape: 4 Story: 13 - Randall Pinkston describes making an attempt to buy channel 61 in Hartford, Connecticut, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Randall Pinkston talks about turning down an opportunity at WSFB-TV in Hartford, Connecticut and his friendship with reporter Adrianne Baughns-Wallace

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Randall Pinkston talks purchasing a home from Adrianne Baughns-Wallace in Queens, New York

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Randall Pinkston lists journalists of color in American broadcast networks in 1980

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Randall Pinkston talks briefly about his college advisor, Daulton Lewis

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Randall Pinkston describes his experiences with former mayor Edward Irving "Ed" Koch of New York City

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Randall Pinkston talks about the death of artist Michael Stewart in police custody in 1983 and contemporary police misconduct

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Randall Pinkston talks about becoming New Jersey correspondent for WCBS-TV Channel 2, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Randall Pinkston talks about his coverage of HistoryMaker Reverend Jesse L. Jackson's presidential campaigns in 1984 and 1988

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Randall Pinkston talks about becoming New Jersey correspondent for WCBS-TV channel 2, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Randall Pinkston remembers the 1988 Democratic National Convention in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Randall Pinkston explains how he became a White House correspondent in 1990, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Randall Pinkston explains how he became a White House correspondent in 1990, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Randall Pinkston describes his experience as a White House correspondent, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Randall Pinkston describes his experience as a White House correspondent, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Randall Pinkston describes traveling in the White House press pool

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Randall Pinkston describes his coverage of President George H.W. Bush falling ill and collapsing at a banquet in 1992, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Randall Pinkston describes his coverage of President George H.W. Bush falling ill and collapsing at a banquet in 1992, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Randall Pinkston critiques the George H.W. Bush Administration's handling of the Clarence Thomas hearings in 1991

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Randall Pinkston talks about general assignment and 'CBS Sunday Morning' reporting and celebrity profiles

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Randall Pinkston describes interviewing HistoryMaker James Cameron, founder of America's Black Holocaust Museum, about surviving a lynching attempt, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Randall Pinkston describes interviewing HistoryMaker James Cameron, founder of America's Black Holocaust Museum, about surviving a lynching attempt, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Randall Pinkston describes his coverage of the Unabomber bombings occurring between 1978 and 1995, and capturing Ted Kaczynski's photograph

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Randall Pinkston talks about his coverage of the September 11th terrorist attacks in 2001

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Randall Pinkston talks about foreign assignments, including his coverage of the search for Osama bin Laden in Tora Bora, Afghanistan caves, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Randall Pinkston talks about foreign assignments, including his coverage of the search for Osama bin Laden in Tora Bora, Afghanistan caves, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Randall Pinkston remembers the execution of four western journalists in Kabul, Afghanistan

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Randall Pinkston describes his living accommodations on assignment in Afghanistan

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Randall Pinkston talks about the potential dangers he faced on assignment in the Middle East

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Randall Pinkston talks about layoffs, internal issues within broadcast networks, and collaboration between media partners

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Randall Pinkston talks about inaccurate and irresponsible reporting in regards to Shia-Sunni relations

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Randall Pinkston talks about deaths and injuries of CBS news correspondents in the early 2000s

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Randall Pinkston describes a change in management at CBS that led to his demotion from the network to CBS Newspath

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Randall Pinkston describes leaving CBS

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Randall Pinkston talks about lucky moments in his career

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Randall Pinkston considers writing a book

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Randall Pinkston reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 10 - Randall Pinkston considers the condition of African Americans in contemporary America

Tape: 8 Story: 11 - Randall Pinkston lists people who had a significant influence on him early in his life, including the first black person he'd met with a home library