Since I heard about Rev. Singleton's death Monday morning, I've been trying to find a way to put into words what he represented. I haven't figured it out yet but can say I admired him for a variety of reasons, even when we passionately disagreed - especially when we passionately disagreed.
I got to know the man on a personal and professional level in ways most people didn't. I know he has done more for the First Amendment rights of teachers in Horry County than just about anyone else I know - even though most teachers don't even seem to realize it or bother to use those rights.
I can say this with certainty: It was no coincidence that he grew up just about a mile down the road from where the late Sen. Strom Thurmond grew up. Thurmond has an extremely complex image in South Carolina for good reason - as does Singleton in the Conway and Myrtle Beach areas, and beyond. We often see what we want to see in people who champion causes we believe in, even when we disagree with how they championed them. That's what we do with our brave, glorious yet slave-owning Founding Fathers, and that's what we do to the likes of Thurmond - and Singleton.
Singleton might be remembered for his hand in the NAACP's fight to bring down the Confederate flag from the State House dome, for his fights against Myrtle Beach City Council and restaurants over the Atlantic Beach Bikefest, or the Conway High School football boycott that also received national attention, for his fight against Conway City Council over what he said was an ill-conceived juvenile curfew in that city, or just for his fight for civil rights in general.
But make no mistake, he will be remembered. He did not tip toe through life to reach death safely.
He made sure his time here mattered. Not all of us can say the same.