Chris Singleton, a rising sophomore baseball player at Charleston Southern University, mourned his mom Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, who died in the mass shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on Wednesday, in a Thursday night eulogy showing filial love and amazing composure.
The 19-year-old’s grace and bearing cut a sharp contrast to the empty-eyed stares of his mother’s 21-year-old murderer. So, too, did the juxtaposition of Singleton’s message of love and reconciliation with Dylann Roof’s obsessions with hatred and murder. Whereas Roof hassled people at malls, dropped out of high school, and used narcotics, Singleton hit .417 as a senior on his high school baseball team and pursues a kinesiology degree. After seeing the worst that humanity has to offer in Coleman-Singleton’s blank-eyed, bowl-cut slayer on Wednesday, South Carolina saw something more uplifting on Thursday night in her son.
“We are mourning right now, but I know we’ll get through it,” Singleton said at a baseball field vigil in North Charleston. “My mom was a God-fearing woman. She loved everyone with all her heart.”
Athleticism, like faith in God, runs in the family. Singleton’s dad played football at Tennessee State and his mom participated in track and field at South Carolina State. Coleman-Singleton coached track at son Chris’ alma mater, Goose Creek High School, where she worked as a speech therapist and loudly rooted on the sports teams.
“When she came to games you knew she was there she was going to be yelling,” Principal Jimmy Huskey told Charleston’s NBC affiliate. “She was going to be screaming for the gators. She loved Goose Creek High School and I just cant tell you how hard it is to lose somebody of that caliber.”
Coleman-Singleton, a minister at Emanuel A.M.E., died along with eight of her fellow parishioners when Roof opened fire on the congregation about an hour into the service. Roof, captured in North Carolina, confessed to the murders, saying he hoped to spark a race war.
That’s the last thing Sharonda Coleman-Singleton would have wanted.
“Love is stronger than hate,” her poised son told those gathered Thursday night. “So if we just love the way my mom would, the hate won’t be anywhere close to what love is.”