By Scarlett Birge, student news writer, Office of University Communications
CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. – “Nobody chooses their skin color, so why would I hate you for yours? And why would you hate me for mine?” said Chris Singleton at Campbellsville University’s Diversity and Community Dialogue on Race on Oct. 28.
The event featured a musical performance by Labi Frazier. “Ms. Labi Frazier is a Lexington native who graduated from the University of Louisville in 2017.
“In addition to being a talented vocalist, both writing and performing her own music, Ms. Frazier works with her mother to promote fitness and well-being in their neighborhood, offering gymnastic and swim lessons, as well as water aerobics to members in their community for free or at a reduced cost,” Dr. Carey Ruiz, director of diversity and community and assistant professor of sociology and justice studies, said.
“The performance was very inspiring. Her songs were very relevant to issues experienced by her peers,” Wanda Washington, diversity and community coordinator at Campbellsville University, said about Frazier, who performs under the stage name “Da Hotel Labi.”
Singleton, an inspirational speaker who is a former Chicago Cubs baseball player, addressed racial conflicts, such as the 2015 Charleston Emanuel AME church shooting in which nine people, including his mother, Shardona Coleman-Singleton, were killed.
Singleton opened his presentation by encouraging the audience to hug someone who looks different than themselves. He said this act could completely change someone’s day for the better.
“Somebody needed that hug. I know for a fact because I was in college and my mom had just been killed and I didn’t tell anybody how I was really feeling,” Singleton said. “I had all the cameras in my face 24/7, but behind closed doors I was struggling.”
He continued to speak on how 16.2 million people in the U.S. are struggling with depression but only 30% reach out to get help. “The other 70% of people were like me; they don’t tell anybody about it. I was struggling in the dark,” he said.
Mentioning how naïve he felt at the time, Singleton revealed that now he understands the strength and courage it takes to speak up.
“My mom was murdered because she was a black woman,” Singleton said. “So many people that don’t look like each other have never heard ‘I love you’ from somebody else that looks different than them.”
He said he truly believes if he grew up with his mother’s killer, showing love and abolishing hatred and fear, that there would be “no way he did what he did.”
Singleton shared his purpose of uniting people by mentioning one of his idols, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He spoke about the similarities he sees in their lives and how that inspires him to follow in King’s footsteps by fighting for equality and unity.
“We never think it would happen to us,” Singleton said about facing the adversity of losing his mother in the shooting. “I remember every single moment of that day,” he said.
Singleton described getting a phone call and having to leave his brother and sister to go to the scene of the crime and identify his mother. Singleton spoke of how reflective that moment was for him to have to describe who his mother was.
“My strength was tested,” as he spoke about breaking the news to his younger siblings. “We would never see our mom again. Never see her smile, never hear her laugh, never feel the warmth of her hug ever again, all because somebody was misled and taught to hate my mom based on a chemical in her skin.”
Singleton shared how reteaching people to love each other could prevent these tragedies. “Right now, it’s so easy for us to be caught up in division,” he said. Singleton said it’s simple to abolish these prejudices through teaching unity.
“Nobody chooses their skin color,” he said. “Celebrate those differences instead of condemning them.”
Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with more than 14,000 students offering over 100 programs of study including Ph.D., master, baccalaureate, associate, pre-professional and certification programs. The university has Kentucky based off-campus centers in Louisville, Harrodsburg, Somerset, Hodgenville and Liberty with instructional sites in Elizabethtown, Owensboro and Summersville. Out-of-state centers include two in California at Los Angeles and Lathrop, located in the San Francisco Bay region. The website for complete information is www.campbellsville.edu.
Campbellsville University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award certificates, associate, baccalaureate, masters and doctoral degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the status of Campbellsville University.