Police looking to compile history of Pinkney Hall, a black Salisbury police officer in 1883

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 9, 2020

By Shavonne Walker

SALISBURY — In 1949, the Salisbury Police Department hired one of its first black officers — Rayford Graham, who would go on to serve 26 years in law enforcement.

But Graham was not the first.

After recently learning of Pinkney “Pink” Hall’s hiring in the 1800s, Police Chief Jerry Stokes and the Salisbury Police Department are hoping that the community or relatives can provide more information about Hall, believed to be the first black police officer hired in the city.

The discovery began with Stokes and Capt. Melonie Thompson discussing black history month. Thompson mentioned Graham and Alonzo Grant, a black man who became an officer after Rayford Graham. Stokes said he’d previously researched and found an African-American officer before the 1900s. That person was Hall, who became an officer in 1883.

Stokes said he consulted with a local historian, who confirmed Hall was a well-known citizen in Salisbury at that time. Stokes also found a Branson’s North Carolina business directory for 1884, written by Rev. Levi Branson, that shows three officers listed at the time — James B. Shaver, William Huff, both of whom were white and Hall, who was listed as “colored.”

“I’m told their duties, all the officers not just Hall, were to patrol at night and light the street lights. So, we have a history of diversity even 18 years past the Civil War in the South,” Stokes said.

He hasn’t been able to find any pictures of Hall, but he hopes to find some descendants and possibly some law enforcement memorabilia or pictures that may have been passed down.

“We wanted to make sure we honored him,” Thompson said.

Thompson said the department would like to find a family member who could fill in the gaps about Hall’s law enforcement career and his life.

Any descendants of Hall or someone who may know some information are asked to contact Thompson via the Salisbury Police Department at 704-638-5333.