Pinkston, Lee Gresham (1883–1961)

By: Lisa C. Maxwell

Type: Biography

Published: May 1, 1995

Updated: June 18, 2021

Lee Gresham Pinkston, Black surgeon, publisher, and political activist, was born in Forest, Mississippi, on August 16, 1883, the son of Ritten and Fannie Pinkston. He attended Meridian Academy in Forest before completing his education at Alcorn College and receiving his M. D. at Meharry Medical College, Nashville, Tennessee. In 1910 he moved to Texas and began private practice in Terrell, where he later opened a clinic and drugstore. In 1912 he married Viola Marie Shaw in Terrell; they had two children. In 1921 the family moved to Dallas, where Pinkston worked at the McMillan Sanatorium, at the corner of Hall and State streets. In 1927 he opened up his own clinic, the Pinkston Clinic Hospital, the third clinic in Dallas to be open strictly to Blacks and the only one operating at that time. He was accepted in 1954 as a member of St. Paul Hospital, the first of five Black doctors to receive the honor at that time, and remained in that position until his death in 1961.

In 1936 Pinkston helped found the Democratic Progressive Voters League; during many years as president and member of the executive committee, he encouraged Black Americans to unify their vote. During World War II he was a member of the Dallas County Selective Service Board. He was a Methodist, a member of the Dallas County Medical Society, president of the Negro Chamber of Commerce, president and publisher of the Star Post Newspaper, president of Western Mutual Life Insurance Company, and a member of the board of directors of Wiley College in Marshall. In 1954 he received the Dallas Citizen Council Award for his work in medical advancement, interracial achievement, and civic affairs. Pinkston died on January 6, 1961, in Dallas, of a heart attack suffered after a car accident. He was buried at Pinkston Cemetery.

Dallas Express, January 14, 1961. Dallas Morning News, January 7, 1961. Vertical File, Dallas Public Library.

  • Health and Medicine
  • Physicians and Surgeons
  • General Surgeons
  • Journalism
  • Peoples
  • African Americans
  • Newspapers
  • Publishers and Executives
  • Activism and Social Reform
  • Activists
  • Civic Leaders
  • North Texas
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Dallas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Lisa C. Maxwell, “Pinkston, Lee Gresham,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 02, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

May 1, 1995
June 18, 2021

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