On June 18, 2015, Chris Singleton, then an outfielder for Charleston Southern University, stepped onto the baseball field, faced the television cameras and told the world that love is always stronger than hate.
Tonight, Singleton brought that message to Fort Wayne.
Singleton – whose mother Sharonda Coleman-Singleton was murdered along with eight others by white supremacist Dylann Roof at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina – was hosted by University of St. Francis as part of a week of events to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., diversity and civil rights.
Singleton, 24, a former minor league baseball player for the South Bend Cubs, said there are five numbers that push him to keep spreading a message of love when times get tough: one, 70, 50, nine and one.
One person fired 70 bullets into a church, 50 or more of which hit nine parishioners, one of whom was Singleton's mom.
"So when they ask me that question, how do you keep going, it's easy," Singleton said. "How can I stop?"
Early in his presentation, Singleton asked the crowd to stand, hug someone who looks different from them and tell them they love them. As awkward as it can be, Singleton said he does that at every presentation because "some people have never heard 'I love you' from someone who doesn't look like them."
"I promised myself that every time I share somewhere, I'm going to make sure people get up and get awkward, they hug somebody that looks different than them and say 'I love you,' " Singleton said. "So many people have never heard those words."