Bill Pickney dies

Bill Pickney, the first Black man to circumnavigate the Earth from pole to pole, died on Thursday in an Atlanta hospital. Mr. Pickney, who was raised on the South Side of Chicago, was 87. 

Mr. Pickney boarded his 47-cutter prior to his 55th birthday and began sailing around the world in August 1990, departing from Boston Harbor. He covered 32,000 miles on the ocean before returning in June 1992.

He was challenged by broken gear and ripped sales. However, he carried with him needlepoint to calm him down.

Pinkney also served as director of marketing for the cosmetics firm the Johnson Products Company, and became director of marketing for the Chicago Department of Human Services in 1980, according to History Makers.

While Teddy Seymour has the distinction of being the first African American sailor to circumnavigate the globe – via the Panama and Suez canals – Pinkney was the first to do so by way of the capes.

After his solo trip on his cutter The Commitment, which began in 1990 and lasted 22 months, Pinkney later set sail on the vessel Sortilege to retrace the slave trade routes of the Middle Passage, according to History Makers. 

PBS joined him to create a television special on this voyage. School teachers from around the country joined him.

In 2021, he was inducted into the National Sailing Hall of Fame.