Multi-faceted author to speak at NAACP event

By Tom Joyce -
Pankey -

An author whose credentials also have included serving as a “tough-love urban principal” will deliver the keynote address at an upcoming event of the Surry County NAACP.

“We try to find a speaker who will be dynamic,” said the group’s president, Faye Carter, in announcing plans for the 53rd-annual Freedom Fund Banquet on May 19.

This year the road led to Henry Pankey, a Durham-area resident who Carter describes as a “super orator” and will be part of an enjoyable evening overall.

“I’m kind of excited about it,” she said.

The Freedom Fund Banquet sponsored by the local branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People will be held in L.H. Jones Auditorium at 215 Jones School Road in Mount Airy.

It is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. on May 19, including a catered dinner, special music and other activities along with the appearance by Pankey.

Tickets for the banquet, which cost $30, are being sold and are available from Surry NAACP representatives including Carter (who can be reached at 429-0324), Teressa Spencer at Spencer Funeral Home and Anise Hickman.

No tickets will be sold at the door on the night of the banquet. It is a major, once-a-year fundraiser for the local NAACP which supports a number of activities.

Dedicated to education

In addition to being the author of at least eight books, Pankey is a motivational speaker and educational consultant specializing in school improvement. He also has been a karate instructor, Shakespearean and contemporary actor, comedian and impressionist.

But schools are the prevailing specialty of Pankey, who has attended 10 universities and holds 12 licenses in the education-administration field. He is known as one of the chief architects of the “Dress for Success” movement dating to the early 1980s in New York City and duplicated around the country.

Pankey considers his “validated legacy” to be an ability to turn around low-performing schools and dramatically improve test scores.

In describing himself as a “tough-love urban principal,” Pankey is reflecting on a 40-year educational career. It has included serving at Parkland High School in Winston-Salem among other administrative positions while also being an advocate for those on the front line in classrooms.

“A teacher’s hard work is a love letter to students,” he once wrote. “Teachers are America’s unsung heroes.”

As for the children, “they are reason enough for me to continue my work as a national advocate for them.”

Pankey’s books reflect his philosophies, with both standard and provocative titles including “Standing in the Shadows of Greatness,” “How to Turn Around Low-Performing Schools” and “The Eagle Who Thought He Was a Hip-Hop Funky Chicken.”

After graduating from Scotland County High School in Laurinburg, Pankey received an undergraduate scholarship to the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and Stockwell College in England.

His commitment to being a lifelong learner also has led to Pankey’s receiving of graduate scholarships to other institutions including the University of Maryland and Long Island University.

Pankey, who ran unsuccessfully as a Democratic candidate for state superintendent of public instruction in 2016, also is the CEO of Success Strategies NCUSA.


By Tom Joyce

Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.

Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.