Chris Singleton: Love needs to be taught

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PHOTOS BY KELLY GIULIANO
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Former professional baseball player Chris Singleton used to have two goals in life – to play Major League baseball and to purchase a Range Rover for his mother.

Unfortunately, Singleton, who is from South Carolina, did not have the opportunity to give his mother a luxury vehicle.

That was because Singleton’s mother and eight other African Americans were fatally shot during a mass shooting on June 17, 2015, in Charleston, South Carolina.

That day, nine people were killed during a Bible study at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Dylann Roof, the white supremacist who opened fire in the house of worship, currently faces the death penalty for fatally shooting the nine, according to The New York Times.

Despite these circumstances, Singleton chose to forgive Roof because he believed in moving forward, and said that “love is always stronger than hate.”

“I’m crazy enough to believe that maybe, if I was in elementary school with my mother’s killer … being the fun guy and the loving guy that I am, I think I would have been his friend,” Singleton said during a conference on Feb. 13 at Brookdale Community College in Lincroft.

“Maybe if he was in my brotherhood … there is no way he would have done what he did to my mom,” Singleton continued.

Singleton’s talk, “Overcoming the Unthinkable Adversity with Love & Forgiveness,” is part of Brookdale’s African American History events and was sponsored by the Office of Student Life and Activities.

That day, dozens of attendees were witness to Singleton’s powerful message about love and forgiveness.

At 18, Singleton received a phone call from his mother’s phone – but it was not his mother. He was instructed to drive to his family’s church. When he arrived, Singleton was greeted by yellow police tape and law enforcement officers.

“I remember hearing the news that my mom got shot. I was thinking to myself that surely there was no way my mom was hurt in a severe way. My mom was a single mother of three, she was our bread winner, and was from Newark, New Jersey. … She is a fighter and would make sure she got out alright,” Singleton said.

After learning his mother died, Singleton was then tasked with telling his 12-year-old brother and 15-year-old sister their mother was dead.

Singleton taught the dozens of students in attendance that “we have to teach love.” Singleton said that life is 10% action and 90% reaction.

“We always have a choice in how we respond. … There are some things in our life that we simply can’t control,” he said.

Singleton said “something out of this world” eventually placed forgiveness “on his heart.” And although he could no longer gift his mother a Range Rover, Singleton said he now just wants to make his mother proud by loving the way she had loved.

“Love is always stronger than hate. So if we could just love the way my mom did, the hate won’t be anywhere close to what love is,” Singleton said.

Following a collegiate career at Charleston Southern University, Singleton was drafted by the Chicago Cubs organization. He played for the Cubs’ minor league affiliate for two season before retiring as a professional baseball player, according to Brookdale.

Singleton has delivered his powerful message to more than 35,000 students across the nation, according to the college.