Javette D. Pinkney, class of 1980


In this interview, Javette D. Pinkney begins by explaining the academic initiative and activist spirit that brought her to Brown. She fondly remembers a “feeling of community,” and campus dating, in spite of instances of racism. She describes her involvement in a number of campus activities and social groups and recalls spearheading the College Venture Program – a pilot program financed by the Braitmayer Foundation to help students who needed or wanted to drop out of college temporarily.

Pinkney also discusses why her Brown experience was unique, addresses her work at the Black Heritage Society, and describes the shared Black experience and moral obligation to teach men to respect women. She goes on to discuss what Brown taught her about women in leadership, the difficulties and ramifications of financial aid, Brown’s commitment to maintaining diversity, and tensions with the Brown Daily Herald. Pinkney concludes by sharing her greatest takeaways from the university and explaining her trajectory after graduation.


Recorded on November 5, 1996 at the Pembroke Center at Brown University, Providence, RI
Interviewed by Derria Byrd

Suggested Chicago style citation: Pinkney, Javette D. Interview. By Derria Byrd. Pembroke Center Oral History Project, Brown University. November 5, 1996.


Javette D. Pinkney graduated from Brown University in 1980 with an A.B. in English. After graduation, she took a marketing position at IBM, where she went on to become Director. With sponsorship from IBM, Pinkney received marketing certification from the Wharton School and has since worked as General Sales Manager and Director of Marketing at a number of prominent companies. At the time of this interview, she also served as a Trustee Emerita and Chair of Brown University President’s Diversity Advisory Council, making her the first Black woman to head an Ivy League Alumni Board.