Woodford native Shaun King responds to questions about his race

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - A Woodford County native and organizer for Black Lives Matter wrote an essay Thursday, addressing in detail accusations that he lied about being black.

Shaun King

Shaun King's race came under scrutiny earlier this week after conservative bloggers claimed he lied about being bi-racial to qualify for a scholarship from Oprah Winfrey to attend Morehouse, a historically black college.

Among other things, the bloggers raised questions about a car crash and King's story that he was mistreated while in Woodford County, including a story about him being beaten by a mob of students while they were in high school.

King is a graduate of Woodford County High School.

A Justice Columnist for American political blog Daily Kos, King initially responded to the blogs on Twitter and indicated that he had nothing more to say about it. But the essay provided context that typically cannot be found in 140 characters.

The piece, published Thursday afternoon, is entitled "Race, love, hate, and me: A distinctly American story."

The essay says King's mother, who is a senior citizen now, had an affair with a black man and that explains why a white man is listed on his birth certificate.

"I refuse to speak in detail about the nature of my mother’s past, or her sexual partners, and I am gravely embarrassed to even be saying this now, but I have been told for most of my life that the white man on my birth certificate is not my biological father and that my actual biological father is a light-skinned black man," he wrote. "My mother and I have discussed her affair. She was a young woman in a bad relationship and I have no judgment."

King also addressed several other rumors that surfaced about him, saying that he had previously held "the cards of my complicated family history very close to my chest" and preferred to keep it that way, but he has "been forced to authenticate so many intimate details of my life to prove who I really am."

Breitbart.com posted the story about King Wednesday, and it was picked up by dozens of media outlets.

The article said King has been "lionised by the press, praised as hero of civil rights and social activism. He has written extensively about a childhood in which he was terrorised by 'decades old racial tensions.' He claims to have been 'the focus of constant abuse of the resident rednecks of my school.'”

"The same sources who falsely reported my family history—including Breitbart, the Daily Caller, and The Blaze—have also falsely reported that my wife and I were never in a brutal car accident, that I lied about how many kids we have (we have 5 now, but have had more/less because we've fostered, adopted, housed many of our nieces and nephews), that I lied about my race to get a scholarship from Oprah, that I lied about how many back surgeries I’ve had, and more. All of those things were completely and totally false, but have simply been ignored at my expense," King said in response to the claims.

Breitbart's article -- and many people on social media -- said King's case was comparable to that of Rachel Dolezal, who resigned as president of Spokane's NAACP chapter after her parents said she was a white woman who for years has posed as black. In that case, Dolezal said she started identifying as black around the age of 5, when she drew self-portraits with a brown crayon.

The reports about King thrust him farther into the national spotlight. For many, King gained notoriety more than a year ago after the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, an unarmed black man who was fatally shot by white Ferguson Police officer Darren Wilson. A grand jury and the U.S. Department of Justice declined to prosecute Wilson, but the shooting touched off a national "Black Lives Matter" movement.

Earlier this week, King said the attack on him stemmed from people who want to derail the movement. Nonetheless, he said he is not deterred.

"My focus will continue to be ending police brutality. I believe it is the pre-eminent civil rights issue of modern America and that, together, we can fight against it effectively," he wrote.



 
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