Local community activist Craig Conwell pumped his fists in the air and chanted “never forget” in front of around 200 people gathered to reflect on the legacy of former Conway NAACP president H.H. Singleton II.
Conwell was one of several speakers who took the podium at Singleton’s funeral Saturday at Conway High School to praise the man and his dedication to helping the poor and the oppressed.
Singleton died Dec. 31 at the age of 80.
During his lifetime Singleton argued with officials, sued them, demonstrated against them and challenged public policies throughout Horry County. He faced off against the Horry County Board of Education, and addressed problems with the Atlantic Beach Bikefest and other issues in the name of equal rights.
“H.H. stands for heaven or hell, depending on which side you stand for justice,” Conwell said.
Mourners gathered in the Conway High auditorium to pay their last respects to Singleton, who lay in a shiny, brown wooden casket at the foot of the stage.
“I just want to thank you for my friend, my brother,” said the Rev. Dr. Kenneth Floyd during an emotional and passionate prayer at the start of the service.
Floyd described Singleton as “a champion of mankind.”
Former Horry County school board member James Dunn received plenty of applause as he remembered Singleton’s fight to keep his teaching job at Conway Middle School.
Singleton served as a spokesman for black football players at Conway High School when they boycotted the team in 1989 for what they said was racial intolerance.
That cost Singleton his teaching job. He then sued the school district over his firing and protesters took to the streets to support both him and the players’ boycott.
Singleton won his case and got his job back.
Dunn recalled how some on the board had already decided to fire Singleton before he’d had a chance to plead his case.
He described his friend as one of the most intelligent people he’d ever known.
Many of the speakers said the best way to carry on Singleton’s legacy is to become involved with the NAACP, as oppression is still a problem.
Winifred Anderson, with the Conway branch of the NAACP that Singleton led for decades, remembered a man who acted as champion for the oppressed.
“There will never be another H.H. Singleton,” said Anderson. “Never. Never.”