As a student, John Pinkett came to the administration’s attention when he registered for housing in Pioneer Hall and was the first African American student excluded from campus dormitories. After this event, Pinkett returned to the greater Washington D.C. area. He began an all-black flight school called the Cloud Club, because aspiring African American pilots were denied flight instruction elsewhere. When the war began, he served as a flight instructor in Alabama, making him a Tuskegee airman. Pinkett went on to achieve the rank of Captain in the air force. He found a second career helping to run the family-owned John R. Pinkett, Inc. real estate business. Pinkett worked to integrate upper-income homes in Washington, D.C. neighborhoods. Doing so, he was known to “bear the brunt of any neighborhood reaction,” and had a cross burned on his lawn or had windows broken with bricks on more than one occasion.
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