Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Influence of Religion and Religious Community

BOND: You mentioned religious principles a moment ago. Is that an important foundation? Is that a part of what makes you who you are today?

PINN: That was very important to me, especially when I was growing up. I think I was — I went to Sunday School. I went to the Baptist church, I went to the Episcopal church. I sang in the choir. I was the summer organist for the church. I played at other churches to make money on Sunday as the organist.

My father was a deacon and we went to — and I was very involved in the religious community and I think as is true in most Southern cities that the church is sort of the center of the community and that’s where you see your friends and that’s where you get your inspiration. And I also studied religion. I took a number of religion courses when I was in college, which my parents weren’t happy about because those religion courses make you think about and challenge some of the concepts in the Bible and learn, you know, what is historical versus what may be allegorical and when I was calling home talking about that, I think my parents got a little upset that I was questioning some of the principles that were — that we sort of took for granted from my biblical teachings. But I — and I think it was really that faith and that strong background that got me through those years when my mother died. All the way through college and all the way through medical school, unless I was on call, I was in church on Sunday and I was there and that was a sense of very strong support.

The integration of the churches in my hometown, sort of like my high school, things disappeared. When integration came to the schools, my high school was the high school no longer. They tore down the main building and it became a junior school. When the churches integrated, my church no longer was a church. It was absolved into the larger white church and I never felt quite as welcome there, but that didn’t keep me from associating with churches. I wasn’t living there after that time. But yes, it was very important because it was very important to my family.