Teen film-maker Ke’Von Singleton already mentoring

March 20 10:52 2019 Print This Article

Charleston-area teen and documentary film-maker Ke’Von Singleton credits his parents Michael and Santonia Singleton and his mentor Elder Cal Morrison for inspiring him to research the civil rights movement. The First Baptist Church School senior regularly returns to his former school, Pepperhill Elementary, to mentor the students there. While the neighborhoods surrounding Pepperhill are plagued by crime and drugs, Singleton tells the students, “You are not defined by what you see in the neighborhood. You can be different!”

Singleton teamed with Malik Hubbard to place second in an international history documentary competition last year at the University of Maryland. There were more than 100 10-minute history documentaries competing for the awards. His entry was entitled Atlanta – the City too Busy to Hate, which documented how the interests of the Coca-Cola Corporation influenced the civil rights movement in Atlanta. With ticket sales languishing for a 1965 banquet honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Coca-Cola President Paul Austin told Atlanta business leaders, “It is embarrassing for Coca-Cola to be located in a city that refuses to honor its Nobel Prize winner.” Shortly thereafter, the banquet was sold out, with 1500 people on-hand to recognize Dr. King’s Nobel Peace Prize, bestowed upon him for his leadership in the civil rights movement.

After completing Pepperhill Elementary, Singleton enrolled in Palmetto Scholars Academy, a charter school which promotes excellence in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). The school encourages group projects, and the experience there gave Singleton a chance to interact with students from different backgrounds for the first time. He transferred to First Baptist as a junior and became captain of the football team in his senior year. He has currently narrowed his college search to Morehouse College in Atlanta, Howard University in Washington, DC, and North Carolina A & T. Singleton became interested in Historically Black Colleges and Universities while researching his latest documentary on black World War II veterans who were denied their GI Bill benefits and could not attend the few colleges that would admit them at the time.

Asked about the next step in the civil rights movement, Singleton quickly cited improving education. When told that only 3.7% of Pepperhill Elementary 5th graders met SC Ready math standards last year, Singleton responded, “That needs to be corrected right away. We can’t afford to let another generation of kids be lost.” He cited the increased use of personalized learning software and incentivizing local students to return to the community as teachers as strategies to turn failing schools around. He also says that students need more encouragement in the classroom and the opportunity spend more time with mentors who can tell them what is possible with a good education and hard work. Singleton has participated in The Beaux Affair, a mentorship program for black male teens.

Since winning his international documentary film award, Singleton has been in heavy demand as a public speaker. He has addressed the Charleston YWCA, Charleston City Council, Charleston County School District and the Charleston County Republican Party. He and Hubbard were recognized on the floor of the South Carolina Senate by Charleston Senator Marlon Kimpson. His message of unity and economic empowerment is resonating. Singleton says, “I have a platform now. I need to make the most of it.”

Photo courtesy of The (Charleston) Chronicle. Pictured (left to right) Ke’Von Singleton, Senator Marlon Kimpson, and Malik Hubbard.