LAURINBURG —Two of Scotland County’s longest running Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebrations will return next week to honor the life of the slain civil rights leader.
The Scotland County branch of the NAACP will hold its annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day program on Monday — the day marked for the national holiday.
The holiday will begin Monday morning with the annual NAACP-sponsored march. It will begin at 10 a.m. at the National Guard Armory at 1520 Main St.in Laurinburg. Participants will walk to Bright Hopewell Baptist Church for a King Day program that will include a speech by author and educator Henry Pankey, who is also running for state superintendent of public education.
Originally from Scotland County, Pankey, attended the UNC School of the Arts on a scholarship and then earned graduate degrees from Stockwell College in England, the University of Maryland and Long Island University.
He began a career in education in 1978 as a substitute teacher in New York City and has won numerous awards during his almost 40 years in education, including Durham’s Principal of the Year for turning around the low-performing Southern High School. While at Parkland, he was named Assistant Principal of the Year by the N.C. Association of Educators in 2012.
Pankey has pushed students to dress better, offering prizes through a program called Dress for Success. In a 2008 speech marking Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, Pankey said he has broken up plenty of fights over a 30-year career, but never “between kids who dressed for success.”
He also told students that “Rosa Parks didn’t do what she did for guys to wear sagging pants.”
The program at Bright Hopewell begins at 11 a.m.
St. Andrews program
On Monday night, St. Andrews University will host a free community event in Avinger Auditorium honoring King with a focus on “serving others.”
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?’” This thought from King will guide the program’s theme while service men and women including military, police and fire department members are honored.
A meet and greet honoring these service people will begin at 5 p.m. in front of the Morris Morgan Theater in the Liberal Arts building.
Emcee and performer for the King Day program will be actor/motivator, Sonny Kelly of Fayetteville. Other participants during the MLK Day service will include the St. Andrews campus Choir, student recitations, a speaker from Fort Bragg, and the Fort Bragg Clarinet Quartet.
The program begins at 6 p.m.
Kelly’s love of acting began when he was about 11 growing up in southern California. His older brother Brent started acting classes. Within a year, he had an agent and was going to auditions so Kelly started taking lessons of his own.
At the age of 12, he got his first professional job in a Levi’s commercial. Later, Kelly won a part on the TV show “The Wonder Years,” as well as a stint on the TV sitcom “Full House,” in which Kelly played a rapping wrestler.
Kelly’s acting career was promising but in his family it was understood that everyone would go to college. He began attending Stanford University on an ROTC scholarship.
At Stanford, Kelly continued acting in plays. After graduation he joined the Air Force and was stationed in Texas. He participated in regional theater whenever he could.
In 1999, Kelly relocated to Fayetteville. He soon discovered local theater and has been very active in plays like “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “Picnic.”
In 2011, Kelly assumed the role of director of the Find-A-Friend program at the Urban Ministry in Fayetteville. He had previously mentored children in the program and served as a youth minister at a church in Texas. Currently Kelly is earning his PhD in Communications at UNC Chapel Hill.
Reach Scott Witten at 910-506-3023