MCCORMICK, SC (WFXG) - The legacy of one of the nine people killed in the Charleston church shooting back in 2015 lives on. A man closely related to the tragedy shared a message to hundreds of students about overcoming racism and forgiving others.
“If I had the chance to talk to Dylann Roof, I would ask him first and foremost who taught him to hate people who look like me,” said Chris Singleton, who is the son of a victim in the church shooting.
In 2015, 21-year-old Dylann Roof killed nine members of Mother Emanuel A.M.E Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Among those killed was Singleton’s mom, Shalonda Coleman-Singleton. Since that fateful day he has been traveling the country speaking to schools, churches and universities trying to bring people of all different races and religion together.
“We wanted him to come and talk to the kids because we felt like the way to address racism and differences is to start at an early age,” explained Jim Kinsler, who is part of the McCormick County Community Relations Council.
Silence fell among the hundreds of children, some teenagers, some middleschoolers as Singleton described the moments he found out that his mother was dead. She was shot multiple times during bible study.
“It’s always tough talking about my mom being murdered but when I see that kids are going through stuff just as similar, I speak to them and it gives them hope. We all may be different shades and different colors. Nobody picked the skin color they have and you shouldn’t love somebody for what they look like on the outside,” said Singleton.
For some students, listening to his message is hitting close to home and encouraging them to speak up, too.
“I could relate because my mom passed in August and I could relate to a lot of his situations and I felt you can motivate others through your story,” said McCormick County student, Nikiryah Garret.
Singleton hopes students walk away knowing they should never hate someone based on the color of their skin but instead love them for their character.
“Best way to overcome racism is to set an example in our school and in our community. Just being one who isn’t against a race and not seeing color,” said McCormick County Student, Justin Hodges.
Singleton said his work does not end after speeches. He always invites students to follow him on social media and message him if they need someone to talk to.
On Saturday, February 9 Singleton will continue his speaking in McCormick County at the Community Relations Council Dinner beginning at 5 p.m.