Though he had a long career as a cosmetics executive, including a stint at Chicago’s own Johnson Products, native South Sider Captain Bill Pinkney was best known as a pioneering sailor.
In 1992, he became the first African American to sail around the world solo via the Southern Capes — a feat that took 22 months, which he chronicled in a video diary and in a documentary. Pinkney said one of his main goals with the journey was to inspire and educate children — inspiration he said was not always available to him as a child attending Chicago Public Schools.
Among his many sailing roles was as the first captain of a replica of the Amistad ship from 2000-2002. In this 2003 clip, Pinkney told the story of La Amistad to Elizabeth Brackett during a tall ships event at Navy Pier.
Pinkney died at 87 in his home in Puerto Rico, where he lived with his wife, Migdalia Pinkney.