Black Excellence

Shaun King: The Man Behind The Controversies

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It is no doubt that, by now, you are familiar with the name Shaun King. Love him or hate him, he is a huge force in the world of social justice. But who is the man behind the controversies?

Shaun King is a writer and civil rights activist. He has mostly channeled his energy to the Black Lives Matter cause which he is well known for. His social media presence is extensive and he uses it to fight for several social justice issues. Very popular among the Liberal college circles, he delivers talks periodically. However, like every man who challenges current structures, Shaun King has had his fair share of controversy.

The Making of Shaun King

Shaun King was born on September 17, 1979 in Versailles, Kentucky. King has shared stories of racist attacks towards him while growing up in Kentucky. He told reporters that he sustained massive injuries after being attached by a group while on school grounds and had to undergo multiple spinal surgeries. He reportedly had to miss a portion of two years of high school due to the injuries.

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King attended Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia and majored in history. In 1999, he was elected president of the student government association. He went on to earn his Master’s degree in History from Arizona State University in 2018.

After graduating college, King taught civics in high school and then worked in Atlanta’s juvenile justice system. He left teaching to work as a pastor at Total Grace Christian Center in DeKalb County, Georgia. In 2008, he founded Courageous Church in Atlanta but resigned in 2012.

Since 2010, King has worked on various charitable projects, including aHomeinHaiti.org, HopeMob.org, and TwitChange.com.

Shaun King broke into the social justice world through a popular article he wrote analyzing the Micheal Brown crime scene, arguing that the shooting officer’s life was not in danger. He joined the Daily Kos as a writer in 2014. He continued to write on civil rights and social justice for the website. He then began contributing for New York Daily News and  The Young Turks.

In 2019, King launched a new website, The North Star. The site focuses on social justice issues.

Shaun King Race Controversy

In August 2015, Shaun King was in the centre of a massive controversy that was unrelated to the police brutality which he was campaigning against. This issue instead focused on something more personal — his racial identity.

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For weeks, numerous conservative media houses released several articles that sought to dispute claims that King had made over the years. One of the most prominent pieces resulted in a Twitter trend questioning King’s apparent biracial status.

A self-identified biracial man, Shaun King has been very proactive when it relates to the Black Live Matters movement. He has spoken out several times and tried to exert his influence to promote racial equality since Michael Brown was shot in Ferguson, Missouri. Shaun King was pushed to give up personal information about his life in an attempt to dispel accusations.

In a conservative website known as Breibart, Milo Yiannopoulos wrote that Shaun is not Black or even biracial. King was raised in Versailles, Kentucky and had mentioned in the past that his mother was white. The report published on the website said that according to the Kentucky Office of Vital Statistics his father – Jeffery Wayne King is also white. Worthy of note is the fact that birth certificates are not required to name the biological father as the father.

Strengthening this accusation was a report from Don Lemon of CNN. Lemon said that a family member had mentioned to him that Shaun King’s parents were white.

In response to these accusations, King reiterated that he is biracial and came from a family with complicated history.

King wrote an extensive article to bring to light a lot of details surrounding his private life. He talked, though reluctantly, about his mother’s past, including her sexual relations. His mother reportedly has told him that his father was a light-skinned black man and he had known all his life that the white man on his birth certificate was not his biological father.

Shaun King shared the myriad of ways in which his race had affected his life. Whether it was in romantic relationships, friendships or during his high school and college years, his racial identity had influenced his experiences. He thought the question of who his father is was unusual and hard and complicated but still, he had faced it many times before. Still, his race was not the only facet of his life under the attack of conservative media.

Questioning Shaun King’s Stories

The Blaze and The Daily Caller also alleged that some details from King’s life were untrue. Shaun King had recounted a story of a fight he got involved in during his high school days. He claims that he had been brutally assaulted by a racist mob on campus grounds which resulted in spinal injuries which he never fully recovered from.

The above outlets carried out investigations which revealed that the fight was reported to the police as a one-on-one combat with another boy over a girl with only minor injuries. They were not able to find any reports of it being a hate crime, contrary to the picture which Shaun King had painted.

However King referenced accounts from two witnesses of the incident. Shea Gold and Willis Polk described the attack on Facebook and they tied it with King’s own story. A former neighbor even stated on the platform that one night after this attack he had to chase a truck full of rednecks away, although he wasn’t certain it had anything to do with race.

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Shaun King’s Handling of Funds

Another controversy King was involved in occurred after he assisted in an arrest being made on account of the killing of 7 year old Jazmine Barnes in Houston. Although he received wide praise for this, not everyone was satisfied. Some activists against racial inequalities went on Twitter to query King’s use of a $100,000 reward that had been given to him and Lee Merritt, the civil rights attorney on the case. This brought previous claims of his mishandling of funds for other cases back into the glare of the public.

King immediately insisted that the money raised had been used to settle the tipster and followed it by threats of legal action. This aggressive response drove a wedge between the activism community. He had some supporters but others felt that going after fellow activists of the same cause was uncalled for.

This aggressive social media activism which he has been known for has also resulted in criticism from liberal activist circles. With over a million followers on Twitter, his campaigns have often included fundraising for families. King’s critics often take to social media to question his handling of millions of dollars that have been collected through the years in the name of social justice. In turn, he invites anybody who doubts his work to look into the books of his organizations.

Love him or hate him, it is no doubt that Shaun King is a force to recon with when it comes to social justice. He uses his platform to shine a bright light on police brutality and injustice every single day. That, of course, comes with plenty of criticism, from both sides of the political spectrum. Which side you fall on is up to you to decide. He only asks that you give him the time to defend himself against the accusations.

Dare Fawale