The senseless and brutal massacre of nine people at Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on evening of June 17 is particularly painful to the independent college community.
Among the dead are Sen. Clementa Pinckney, Tywanza Sanders, DePayne Doctor, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., and Myra Thompson. Each had deep ties to SCICU member colleges and universities, and their friendship, support, and contributions will be sorely missed.
Rev. Clementa Pinckney was the pastor of one of the oldest AME churches in the south, lovingly referred to as “Mother Emanuel.” He graduated from Allen University in 1995 and was elected to the State House of Representatives a year later and to the State Senate in 2000.
A member of the Senate’s Education and Finance committees, Sen. Pinckney was a staunch supporter of independent higher education and the Tuition Grants program. He was a featured speaker at several SCICU retreats and would always meet with students and participate in SCICU’s State House Day.
Tywanza Sanders, 26, graduated from Allen University with a degree in business administration. According to Allen University President Lady June Cole, Tywanza “was a quiet, well-known student who was committed to his education. He presented a warm and helpful spirit as he interacted with his colleagues.”
DePayne Doctor was admissions coordinator at Southern Wesleyan University’s Charleston learning center. She earned a BA in biology and life sciences from Columbia College and a MA in management from SWU. President Todd Voss was shocked to hear this news. He shared, “Always a warm and enthusiastic leader, DePayne truly believed in the mission of SWU to help students achieve their potential by connecting faith with learning.”
Sharonda Coleman-Singleton was a minister on the staff of Emanuel AME in addition to being a speech pathologist and girls’ track and field coach at Goose Creek High in nearby Berkeley County. Her oldest son, Chris, is a rising sophomore at Charleston Southern University and a member of the baseball team. CSU President Jairy C. Hunter, Jr. said that “The CSU family is praying for Chris and his family during this painful time. CSU coaches and campus ministers are assisting the Singleton family as they deal with this tragedy.” A campus prayer vigil will be held on Monday at 11:30 a.m. at Whitfield Center for Christian Leadership.
The Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr. was a member of the ministerial staff at Emanuel AME. At age 74, he was a retired pastor from another Charleston church. Like Pinckney and Sanders, Rev. Simmons was graduate of Allen University in Columbia and a member of the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity.
Myra Thompson earned a Bachelor of Science degree in English from Benedict College in 1979. She was a retired high school counselor and the wife of Rev. Anthony Thompson, who is also a graduate of Benedict College. Rev. Thompson is a Vicar at the Holy Trinity Reformed Episcopal Church (ACNA) in Charleston.
The thoughts and prayers of the extended SCICU community not only go out to our friends, fellow alumni, colleagues, and their families, but to all the victims and their loved ones.