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Shaun King

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Shaun King
Shaun King at Suffolk University 7.png
Shaun King at Suffolk University in Boston, 2017
Born Jeffery Shaun King
(1979-09-17) September 17, 1979 (age 38)
Franklin County, Kentucky, U.S.
Nationality American
Alma mater Morehouse College
  • Writer
  • activist
  • entrepreneur
  • pastor
Movement Black Lives Matter
Spouse(s) Rai King
Children 5

Jeffery Shaun King (born September 17, 1979) is an American writer and civil rights activist. He is noted for his use of social media to promote religious, charitable, and social causes, including the Black Lives Matter movement. He is a columnist for the Intercept. Previously, he was a contributing writer for Daily Kos and a political commentator for The Young Turks. He co-founded the Real Justice PAC in February 2018, which supports progressive candidates running for district attorney offices in 2018.[1][2]

Early life

King grew up in Versailles, Kentucky.[3] He was raised by his white mother and white adoptive father, Jeffrey King. King grew up believing what she later confirmed to him: that his biological father was a light-skinned black man.[4][5] According to a local police detective, those who knew him were aware of his biracial heritage: "Anyone from around here who knew him knew he was mixed."[6] King attended Huntertown Elementary School[7] and Woodford County High School.[8]

King attended Morehouse College, a private, historically black men's college in Atlanta, Georgia, where he majored in history.[9] Midway through his education, he had to take a medical leave.[10] Upon his return, he was named an Oprah Winfrey Scholar by Morehouse. Oprah scholars are given financial support and are required to maintain their grade point average and do community service.[11] King fulfilled his community service requirement by tutoring and mentoring students at Franklin Lebby Stanton Elementary School in Atlanta.[9] After graduation in 2002, King was a research assistant for Morehouse history professor Alton Hornsby Jr.[12]


After graduation, King was a high school civics teacher for about a year and then became a motivational speaker for Atlanta's juvenile justice system.[13] He was then a pastor at Total Grace Christian Center in DeKalb County, Georgia.[14] In 2008, King founded a church in Atlanta called "Courageous Church". He made use of social media to recruit new members and was known as the "Facebook Pastor".[13][15]

In March 2010, while still a pastor, he founded as a subsidiary of Courageous Church and used eBay and Twitter to raise $1.5 million to send tents to Haiti after the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Desperate Housewives star Eva Longoria was a spokesperson for the campaign.[16] This inspired him to launch, a charity auction site. TwitChange held Twitter charity auctions on eBay where celebrities offered to retweet winning bidders' tweets in exchange for support of a particular charity. One campaign raised funds to build an orphanage in Bonneau, Haiti.[17][18][19][20] In 2010, TwitChange won the Mashable Award for "Most Creative Social Good Campaign".[21][22]

In 2012, King resigned from the Courageous Church, citing personal stress and disillusionment.[23] That same year he and web designer Chad Kellough founded,[24] a charity site that used voting to select a particular person's story and then raise money for that story until its goal was met. The money went to an organization which provided for the person's needs, not to the person individually. After one goal was met, the next story in line would then get funds raised.[25] HopeMob initially raised funds to build their platform in January 2012 on the crowdfunding site Kickstarter. Their campaign raised about $125,000.[26]

In 2014, he and two co-inventors, Ray Lee and Vincent Tuscano, were awarded U.S. patent 8,667,075, "System and method for implementing a subscription-based social media platform". This patent was filed by the startup he founded, @Upfront.[27][28][29]

In 2015, he wrote the self-help book The Power of 100.[30]

On October 2, 2015, the New York Daily News announced that it was hiring King to the new position of senior justice writer, where he would focus on reporting and commentary on social justice, police brutality and race relations.[31] He left the Daily News in August 2017.[32]

On December 28, 2016, Cenk Uygur announced that King had been hired as a political commentator for The Young Turks.[33]


King has written extensively about incidents in the Black Lives Matter movement, gaining prominence during the events following the shooting of Michael Brown. King wrote an article analyzing the Brown crime scene, and argued that the evidence suggested that officer Darren Wilson's life was not in danger during the shooting.[34][35]

King became a contributing blogger for the politically liberal website the Daily Kos in September 2014.[36] His contributions to the website have focused on civil rights, violence in Ferguson, Missouri, and Charleston, South Carolina, as well as allegations of police brutality, especially toward the black community.[37] In August 2015, he launched Justice Together, an organization to identify police brutality and lobby local politicians for change.[38] To the surprise of many of the group's members, King unilaterally disbanded the organization in the fall of 2016. [39]

King announced that he would leave the Democratic Party after the 2016 election due to allegations of corruption and lack of neutrality in the party during the primaries.[40]

In September 2016, King proposed an Injustice Boycott for later that year in December.[41][42]

In an October 11, 2017 article in The Washington Post, Shaun King was credited with leading a successful months-long and far-reaching social media campaign which led to the identification and arrest of three of the men behind the August 12, 2017 assault on DeAndre Harris during the Unite the Right rally. 18-year-old Daniel P. Borden from Mason, Ohio; 33-year-old Alex Michael Ramos of Marietta, Georgia; and 22-year-old Jacob Scott Goodwin from Ward, Arkansas, were arrested for the parking garage beating.[43] The Washington Post described how the attack on Harris became a "symbol of the violence and racial enmity that engulfed Charlottesville when white supremacists, Klan members and neo-Nazis clashed with counterprotesters."[44] Two were subsequently convicted while two others are awaiting trial.

Harris was later served with an arrest warrant sought by 48-year-old Harold Crews, North Carolina's League of the South chairman and a real estate lawyer, who alleged that Harris had hit him with a flashlight during an altercation prior to the Market Street Garage brawl.[45][46][47][47] Crews used a law by which alleged crime victims who have filed a police report can get a warrant if they can convince a local judge to sign it.[48] In the interview with the Washington Post, King responded, "I am disgusted that the justice system bent over backwards to issue a warrant for one of the primary victims of that day, when I and others had to fight like hell to get that same justice system to prosecute people who were vicious in their attacks against Harris and others. Now, we're seeing white supremacists celebrate on social media, bragging about Harris's arrest. They're hailing this as a victory."[43] Harris was later acquitted of misdemeanor assault by a local judge.

On May 20, 2018 King accused a white Texas state trooper of raping Sherita Dixon-Cole, an African-American human resources professional.[49][50] The trooper arrested Dixon-Cole for drunk driving and King based his accusation off of statements she and her family made to King and Philadelphia lawyer S. Lee Merritt. King's social media posts, which identified the trooper by name, went viral and threats were made against the arresting trooper as well as another trooper with the same last name.[51] The Texas Department of Public Safety released nearly two hours of body cam footage on May 22 that exonerated the trooper.[52] Merritt subsequently apologized for the false accusation and national attention he had brought to the case.[53] King deleted his social media posts after the body cam video was released.[53][54][55]

Tamir Rice fundraising

King has raised money for multiple causes including the Tamir Rice shooting, and various incidents where the Black Lives Matter movement has been involved. Through the fund-raising website,, King raised $60,000 for Rice's family. Rice, a 12-year-old resident of Cleveland, Ohio, was killed in 2014 by two Cleveland city policemen after they responded to a complaint "of a male black sitting on a swing and pointing a gun at people."[56][57][58]

After learning the child had not been buried as of five months after the shooting, and the child's mother had moved into a homeless shelter,[59] he started the fund to assist the Rice family; however, family attorney Timothy Kucharski stated in May 2015 that neither he nor the Rice family had heard of King or the fundraiser, nor had they received any money.[60][61] The money raised was then seized by the court and placed into Tamir Rice's estate instead of being freely available to the family. King and the Rice family's new legal counsel, Benjamin Crump, then started a second charity drive with the proceeds going directly to the family. An additional $25,000 was raised.[61][62]

Personal life

He is married with five children.[23] Three of his children are biological with his wife and two are by custody and adoption. He has had foster children, nieces and nephews stay with him.[38][63] He has written extensively about his experiences as a biracial person.[64]

High school assault

One of his experiences in high school was what he considered a hate crime assault.[18] King stated a "dozen rednecks" had beaten him and the injuries caused him to miss a portion of two years of high school due to multiple spinal surgeries.[13] A band teacher, two fellow students from King's high school, as well as King's wife, posted their recollection of the event to Facebook, backing King's account.[65][66][67]

The detective who investigated the case in 1995 described King's injuries as "minor". The associated police report noted that the incident revolved around a fight involving only one other student who defended his girlfriend after being allegedly threatened by King. The report did not indicate the incident was racially motivated. There is no mention of a "hate crime" either with local police or with the FBI.[65][68] Keith Broughton, the investigating detective, said he interviewed six witnesses put forth by the school's principal, including a teacher who broke up the fight. All of them described it as a one-on-one altercation.[65]

Questions regarding race

In August 2015, Milo Yiannopoulos questioned King's biracial identity in an article for Breitbart. He cited two pieces of evidence. First, King's birth certificate, which lists Naomi Fleming and Jeffrey Wayne King (both of whom are white) as King's parents.[5] Second, a police report that cited King's race as "white."[69]

Regarding the first piece of evidence, King said that the man listed on his birth certificate is his adoptive, not biological father, and that his mother has told him his biological father is a light-skinned black man.[64][65] In various interviews with King's family and classmates conducted by the mainstream media, they stated that they understood King to be biracial growing up.

Regarding the second piece of evidence, the police officer who listed King's race as "white" was interviewed by the Independent Journal Review following Yiannopoulos's article for Breitbart. The officer recalled the case and stated that he believed King to be biracial, and that everyone who knew King knew he was mixed. He went on to state that he had only listed King as white because he is light-skinned, and biracial was not an option on his form.[6] King and his supporters expressed concern that such questions were an attempt to distract from the Black Lives Matter movement.[70][71]


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  2. ^ Stewart, Joshua. "Liberal PAC jumps into DA race, might be first wave of money". Retrieved 2018-03-23. 
  3. ^ "Versailles leaders discuss Shaun King's critical comments",, August 31, 2015
  4. ^ Blair, Leonardo (21 August 2015). "Christian Black Lives Matter Activist Shaun King Says His Mother Had Affair With His Father, a 'Light-Skinned' Black Man". The Christian Post. 
  5. ^ a b Lowery, Wesley; Miller, Michael (August 20, 2015). "Activist Shaun King says man on his birth certificate isn't his biological father". The Washington Post. 
  6. ^ a b Vazquez, Maegan (August 21, 2015). "Was Shaun King a Victim of a Hate-Crime in High School? Eyewitness and Police Reports Are at Odds". Independent Journal Review. Retrieved November 2, 2016. 
  7. ^ Gorman, Michele (August 20, 2015). "Black Lives Matter Leader Shaun King Denies He Lied About Race and Assault". Newsweek. Retrieved November 2, 2016. 
  8. ^ "Woodford native Shaun King responds to questions about his race". WKYT. August 21, 2015. Retrieved November 2, 2016. 
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  11. ^ Page, Seraine (June 1, 2011). "Local Oprah Scholar on final show". Hinesville Publishing. Retrieved June 9, 2017. 
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  13. ^ a b c Anderson, Troy (March 2012). "Innovative entrepreneur Shaun King has mastered the art of using social media for social good". Archived from the original on August 23, 2014. 
  14. ^ "Bishop Johnathan Alvarado Focus of Prosecutors". 11 Alive Atlanta. [dead link]
  15. ^ Marshall, Scott (June 7, 2011). "Shaun King: Courageous Church, Atlanta". Archived from the original on August 29, 2015. 
  16. ^ Marcia Wade Talbert, "Tweets for Good: Atlanta pastor transforms microphilanthropy with celebrity Twitter auctions",, June 1, 2011.
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  18. ^ a b Thorpe, Devin. "Shaun King Brings Hope(Mob) to Crowdfunding". Forbes. 
  19. ^ Gross, David (September 16, 2010). "Pay for celebs to tweet for you (and charity)". CNN. 
  20. ^ Audi, Tamara (September 23, 2010). "Celebrities Auction Tweets to Raise Money for Haitian Orphans". The Wall Street Journal. 
  21. ^ Team, Mashable. "Mashable Awards 2010: Announcing The Winners". 
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  25. ^ Neumann, Amy (August 13, 2012). "Social Good Stars: HopeMob's Shaun King". HuffPost. 
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  28. ^ "Upfront Awarded Far-Reaching Patent for Premium Mobile Content". Reuters. March 6, 2014. Archived from the original on October 4, 2015. 
  29. ^ US 8667075, King, Jeffrey Shaun; Ray Lee & Vincent Tuscano, "System and method for implementing a subscription-based social media platform", published September 12, 2013 
  30. ^ "The Power of 100",, January 7, 2015.
  31. ^ NY Daily News hires columnist and activist Shaun King. CNNMoney, October 2, 2015
  32. ^ Prince, Richard. "Shaun King Is Out: Daily News Loses Its Activist Black Columnist". Journal-isms. Retrieved 2018-05-15. 
  33. ^ Wysocki, Aaron (December 28, 2016). "The Young Turks Hire Nomiki Konst And Shaun King". TYTNetwork. Retrieved December 29, 2016. 
  34. ^ Thomas, Dexter (July 22, 2015). "Suspicion over 'glitches' in Sandra Bland arrest video shouldn't surprise us". Los Angeles Times. 
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  37. ^ "Shaun King's profile". Daily Kos. Retrieved June 9, 2017. 
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  39. ^ "The rise and fall of Shaun King, former Black Lives Matter darling". January 29, 2016. Retrieved April 12, 2017. 
  40. ^ King, Shaun (May 20, 2016). "Here's why I'm leaving the Democratic Party after this presidential election and you should too". New York Daily News. Retrieved November 2, 2016. 
  41. ^ Puglise, Nicole (September 30, 2016). "Could a boycott by black Americans end police brutality and injustice in the US?". The Guardian. Retrieved November 2, 2016. 
  42. ^ King, Shaun (September 30, 2016). "Here is how we will boycott injustice and police brutality in America". New York Daily News. Retrieved November 2, 2016. 
  43. ^ a b Shapira, Ian; Hawkins, Derek (October 11, 2017). "Black man attacked by white supremacists in Charlottesville faces felony charge". Washington Post. Retrieved October 15, 2017. 
  44. ^ "Third white supremacist arrested in Charlottesville garage beating of a black man". The Washington Post. August 28, 2017. Retrieved October 15, 2017. 
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  48. ^ "Black man beaten in Charlottesville far-right rally charged". BBC. October 12, 2017. Retrieved October 13, 2017. 
  49. ^ Staff. "Shaun King: Will Sherita Dixon-Cole get justice?". Black America Web. Retrieved 24 May 2018. 
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  51. ^ Staff. "Lawyer apologizes for falsely accusing trooper of rape". Retrieved 24 May 2018. 
  52. ^ Ablon, Matthew (21 May 2018). "Bodycam video refutes Texas trooper assault claim; attorney apologizes". KWTX-TV News 10. Retrieved 24 May 2018. 
  53. ^ a b English, Stephen (May 23, 2018). "She accused a Texas state trooper of sexual assault. Then her lawyer apologized". Star-Telegram. Retrieved 24 May 2018. 
  54. ^ Woodard, Teresa. "Charges possible for woman who falsely accused DPS trooper of sex assault, DA says". WFAA Dallas News. Retrieved 24 May 2018. 
  55. ^ Eltagouri, Marwa. "She said she was sexually assaulted by a state trooper. His camera footage shows otherwise". The Washington Post. Retrieved 24 May 2018. 
  56. ^ "Tamir Rice Shooting – Cleveland Police Dispatch Radio". YouTube. November 24, 2014. 
  57. ^ Izadi, Elahe; Holley, Peter (November 26, 2014). "Video shows Cleveland officer shooting 12-year-old Tamir Rice within seconds". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 26, 2014. 
  58. ^ McCarthy, Tom. "Tamir Rice: video shows boy, 12, shot 'seconds' after police confronted child]". The Guardian. New York. Retrieved November 26, 2014. 
  59. ^ Lowery, Wesley (May 4, 2015). "As investigation enters fifth month, Tamir Rice's mother has moved into a homeless shelter". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 19, 2015. 
  60. ^ "Funds Raised for Rice Family Get Caught in Legal Morass; New Fundraising Effort Under Way". Cleveland Scene. 
  61. ^ a b Lowery, Wesley (May 5, 2015). "Online activists raised $60K for Tamir Rice's family – so where did all that money go?". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 19, 2015. 
  62. ^ King, Shaun (December 26, 2015). "A complete accounting of every dollar raised by Shaun King throughout the Black Lives Matter Movement". 
  63. ^ Stevens, Alexis (August 20, 2015). "Activist Shaun King, a Morehouse grad, denies lying about race". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 
  64. ^ a b King, Shaun (August 20, 2015). "Race, love, hate, and me: A distinctly American story". Daily Kos. 
  65. ^ a b c d Southall, Ashley (August 19, 2015). "Activist Shaun King Denies Claims He Lied About Race and Assault". The New York Times. 
  66. ^ Lopez, German (August 21, 2015). "The Shaun King controversy, explained". Vox. 
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  68. ^ Ross, Chuck (July 21, 2015). "Ferguson Activist's Hate Crime Claim Disputed By Police". The Daily Caller. 
  69. ^ Sharlet, Jeff (August 27, 2015). "Shaun King Speaks Out Against Breitbart's Racial Allegations". GQ. 
  70. ^ Cris, Doug (August 20, 2015). "Black Lives Matter activist Shaun King addresses race reports". CNN. 
  71. ^ Rogers, Katie (August 21, 2015). "In Questions Over Shaun King's Race, Activists See Challenge to Black Lives Matter Movement". The New York Times. Retrieved September 14, 2015. 

External links

Official website