Former professional baseball player Chris Singleton lost his mother in the tragic 2015 Emanuel AME Church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina and says he was able to forgive the killer and God has made it his life mission to share the story with others.
Singleton’s story is told in the upcoming documentary, “Emanuel,” which will hit theaters nationwide through Fathom Events on June 17 and 19. The movie shares the chilling testimonies of the victims of the 2015 Emanuel AME Church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina while giving viewers a look into the church’s rich history.
The moving documentary is being released to coincide with the anniversary of the convicted shooter, 21-year-old white supremacist Dylann Roof, and his first court appearance where one by one Roof was forgiven by the family members of the nine people he shot dead in the basement of the historically black church in Charleston, S.C.
The documentary was made in direct partnership with the city of Charleston and the families affected by the tragedy. Among those whose lives would forever be changed the evening of June 17 was Singleton, whose mom, 45-year Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, was among the slain. The athlete’s mother raised him in the historic black church, founded in 1816, which once served as a meeting place for those who marched for civil rights.
Below is an edited transcript between The Christian Post and former minor-league outfielder for the Chicago Cubs Singleton, where he shares on the power of forgiveness, why he left professional baseball and all that he’s doing in his mother’s memory now.
Christian Post: After everything that you’ve been through, how do you, a victim of the worst kind of racism, combat racism?
Singleton: To somebody that looks different than me, I’m going to be extra nice to them. I have no idea if they are racist or not but I think it’s super hard for somebody that’s racist to be mean to you if you’re being super nice to them. I think by being super kind to somebody, you can change somebody’s mind about people that look like you forever.
CP: How does one keep going after everything you’ve been through?
Singleton: In a sense, I’m never going to try to move on, there’s always going to be a piece of me that’s gone because of that. But I’ve used the incident, my mom’s life being taken away the way it was, I’ve used that to kind of fuel me and my mission to spreading love and unity. So I guess in a way, I’m not really moving on from it, I’m using that as fire and fuel to keep doing what I’m doing.
CP: Talk to us about your choice to forgive your mother’s killer and the response that choice generated?
Singleton: I think first and foremost when people think you forgive, they automatically think you submitted and you’re weak. I think that’s the complete opposite of what forgiveness is. I think it takes more strength and more courage to forgive somebody than it does to hold a grudge and to be angry and upset all the time. I think that’s the easy way out.
With me personally, I believe once we’re able to forgive you are able to build on things and you’re able to free yourself of that constant feeling of anxiety or feeling like you need to get revenge or whatever it may be. In my life, I’m a believer and I know for a fact that I had help when I said the words that I forgive him. I know now that it wasn’t just me. I know that God was actually using me and my life during that time. At the time when I said it, I had no idea why I said it. People were saying, your mom was speaking through you. But now I realized that it was God using me in that time.
I’ve heard people saying that by forgiving you’re taking the easy way out, you’re not holding people accountable. People think that I’m okay with the way that things turned out and I’m not at all but that’s what fuels me from stopping that from happening in the future.
CP: Has Dylann Roof responded to your act of forgiveness?
Singleton: I haven’t seen any response or reaction from him in any way.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Jeannie Law