Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton

“Reverend Sharonda Ann Coleman-Singleton” by Ricky Mujica; Emanuel Nine Tribute Portrait Project

“She did so much as a mom. And she did a lot of stuff in the church and a lot of stuff in her work. She just did so much, but it never seemed like it was too much because she could do it all.”

Kennetha Wright manning, lifelong friend.


Of all the things written of Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45, a theme emerges: goal-oriented, disciplined, making it count. According to her three aunts, whether it was running track, coaching students, or spreading the Gospel, “Tookey,” as she was known in her extended family, came from a family of women that nourished a love of God and an intense drive to achieve her goals. An it showed; she was a single mother with three jobs she loved – coach, minister, and teacher – and working on her doctorate all simultaneously.

“Sharonda was everything any friend could want”

Rita Widbee, longtime friend.

Education

Hailing from Newark, NJ, Rev. Coleman-Singleton graduated from Vailsburg High School in 1987, her performance in track awarding her a scholarship to South Carolina State. She continued on to get a bachelor’s degree in speech pathology and audiology from South Carolina State University, where she was an award-winning hurdler who sent her team to a conference championship. . She had been one of the runners at SC State who were called “the Goddamn Beauty Queens” by a coach who was bitter that they drew attention from the men’s teams. After college, Rev. Coleman-Singleton continued her studies at Montclair State University, obtaining a Master’s degree in speech language and pathology. She was working on her doctorate when she died.

Career

“I saw her at work everyday and she always had a smile on her face. When I was doing duty she would walk by me with that awesome smile and never had a bad smile,”

Goose Greek Gators baseball coach Chris Pond

Rev. Coleman-Singleton was serving as the head coach for the girls track team at Goose Creek High School, as well as serving as a speech pathologist and therapist since her 2008 move to Goose Creek after serving as a speech and language pathologist in schools in Georgia. She had gained a reputation as more than a coach – a mentor who advocated for the young women she coached.


Ministry

And it came as no surprise to Coleman-Singleton’s family that she lost her life in the place where had she spent most of it. In the house of God, Coleman-Singleton was a leader, a motivator, and a teacher baptizing children, serving communion and encouraging her fellow believers.

Washington Post

Rev. Coleman-Singleton was introduced to Mother Emanuel by her ex-husband, Chris, but it was her relationship with the church that remained after her divorce. She preached in several pulpits on Sunday mornings. Her friends say that before she became a minister she had a close relationship with God, providing comfort in the most difficult of times. The older folks at Emanuel became extended family to her children. As a lay minister at Mother Emanuel, she worked with the youth and young adult ministries.

Her son Chris wrote in an instagram post;

“It’s funny how I always told you that you went to church too much. You would laugh it off and say, ‘Boy you can never have too much of the Lord.’ You were a better mother than I could have ever asked for.

Son, Chris

She leaves behind her sons and daughter, Christopher, Caleb, and Camryn Singleton. Her son Chris, a former pro baseball player, currently travels in speaking engagements to spread his message of “Love is stronger than hate”, born in the aftermath of the tragedy, inspired by his mother’s legacy and drive, and continuing on today.



References

Hernandez, Arelis. 2015. “Remembering the Charleston Church Shooting Victims.” Washington Post. June 18, 2015. https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/national/charleston-church-shooting-victims/.
Truesdell, Jeff. 2015. “Charleston Church Shooting Victims Ranged from Pastors to Politician to Girls’ Track Team Coach.” PEOPLE.Com. June 18, 2015. https://people.com/crime/charleston-victims-ranged-from-pastors-to-politician-to-girls-track-team-coach/.
The South Carolina Department of Education. n.d. “Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton – South Carolina African American History Calendar.” Accessed July 21, 2019. https://scafricanamerican.com/honorees/rev-sharonda-coleman-singleton/.
Zapotosky, Matt. 2017. “Dylann Roof Says It’s ‘Not Fair’ He Has to Hear so Much from His Victims’ Families. They All Had to Endure His Racist Screed.” Washington Post, January 5, 2017, sec. National Security. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/dylann-roof-says-its-not-fair-he-has-to-hear-so-much-from-the-loved-ones-of-his-victims/2017/01/05/e77a2156-d347-11e6-945a-76f69a399dd5_story.html.
BBC News. 2015. “The Victims of Charleston Shooting,” June 18, 2015, sec. US & Canada. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-33193090.
Von Drehle, David, Jay Newton-Small, and Maya Rhodan. 2015. “What It Takes to Forgive a Killer.” TIME.Com, November 12, 2015. https://time.com/time-magazine-charleston-shooting-cover-story/.

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