Former minor league baseball player Chris Singleton has been on a journey of inspiration since 2015. The 24-year-old 2017 Chicago Cubs recruit shared his story in the latest edition of SAC Speaks Nov. 5.
SAC Speaks is a series of speakers who come to campus with a message for students and staff alike. Singleton’s speech was on the topic of white supremacy and race issues that happen today. The solution, he said, relies on loving everyone, no matter how different, and forgiving those who have done bad things to people.
Traveling to more than 40 states, he is now an inspirational speaker. Meeting with professional sports teams like the New York Yankees and big corporations like Microsoft, he preaches the message of love and forgiveness battling hate.
To illustrate his message, Singleton shared about the day his mother was shot and killed by a white supremacist in a church in Charleston, South Carolina.
“Mom is everything to me and then some,” Singleton said. “This can’t be the same mom getting her doctorate degree. No way.”
Singleton said that he was lucky to not know who the coroner was, because when they came up to talk to him, he didn’t fully comprehend what was happening. He said the coroner started asking for details about his mom.
Singleton said he didn’t know why they would ask for details if she was alive, but then thought maybe they just needed help finding out who is who. After talking with Singleton, the coroner said that he believed Singleton's mom was shot.
“I thought, ‘Well maybe she just shot in the hand,’” Singleton said.
He then talked about how he was describing his mom, when the coroner asked if there was anything specific about his mom.
“‘She is going to kill me if she is alive, but there’s a tattoo on her ankle,” Singleton said.
The coroner left, and his family began to show up. His girlfriend, now wife, his brother and his sister were all there. Together, they were told it was confirmed — his mom was shot and killed.
Singleton said one of the hardest things he had to do was tell his younger siblings “Mom is gone.” Without his mom, Singleton said he would not have become a speaker or the person he is today.
More than 50 spread out students, faculty and staff sat attentively in their chairs as he transitioned from a personal story to one directed at the audience.
Singleton talked about the first time a white person said “I love you” to him.
“If no one of the opposite color has ever said those words to you, let me be the first,” Singleton said. “I love each and every one of you.”
After that, he began to talk about a saying that changed his life, as well as one that he said didn’t really help him.
He said he hated when someone said “Play the cards you're dealt.”
“It’s easy for someone with the easy cards,” Singleton said.
Singleton said he found something that changed his life forever. It’s the 90%-10% rule. 90% you, yourself can control, and 10% you can’t control.
“My 10% is my mom and dad dying,” Singleton said. “My 10% is my dad dying from alcohol abuse, but my 90% is telling my wife and siblings that I will never abuse drugs or alcohol.”
Singleton said he believes his message is about teaching, and that it’s a mission to find out why someone feels the way they do.
Singleton’s final story was when he lived in a free retirement community.
“Free was my friend, so I took it,” Singleton said.
When he was living there, he would interview the residents. One day, he interviewed a woman he called “Grandma G.” In the interview, she showed Singleton her twin grandchildren, one was Black and one was white. Grandma G said she called them “chocolate and vanilla ice cream.”
Singleton said he asked her why she would call them that. He said her response was “Even though they’re different on the outside, they’re still sweet on the inside.”
Singleton said that’s when he discovered something great.
“When we celebrate instead of condemning, that’s how we come together,” Singleton said.
In his closing remarks, Singleton said that he lives his life by the 90%-10% rule. He said that telling his story is harder some days, but that this is like therapy to him.
Northwest Junior Elizabeth Hastings said she learned from Singleton to make the most of her life because you never know how long you have or when it will change.
“What I took away from the presentation was that you never know when someone is going to die in your life and then you are going to have the responsibilities of taking care of things they had or even your brothers or sisters,” Hastings said.
Sydnie Platt, SAC’s director of lecture programming, said they were able to contact Singleton after the current president and director of Northwest Traditions had gone to a conference where they heard Singleton speak.
As Singleton is someone who has been impacted by gun violence, Platt said they hoped he would have a strong message about overcoming adversity and how powerful forgiveness is.
“Chris Singleton has an important story to tell and we wanted to give students, faculty, and staff the opportunity to hear that story,” Platt said in an email. “Since our goal of the Student Activities Council is to bring a wide variety of speakers, topics, and discussions to campus, we felt that Mr. Singleton would be a perfect fit in achieving our mission.”
Singleton said that his next stop was Microsoft, to speak to the company about loving everyone the same.