Shaun King, a prominent voice in the Black Lives Matter movement, denied accusations that he lied about being biracial and a victim of a brutal racial attack by a white mob, the New York Times reports.
The Daily Caller, a right-wing conservative blog, has been circulating posts for weeks that question King’s honesty. One conservative blogger claimed to have evidence that King’s father was white, which would disprove the activist’s claim that his father is black. King responded on Twitter to his legion of followers: “Every single person who knows me BEYOND Twitter, beyond trending topics and HIT PIECES, knows I have never lied about my race.”
The allegations reached a crescendo Wednesday when conservative media site Breitbart published a piece suggesting that King misled Oprah Winfrey by pretending to be biracial in order to receive a scholarship to Morehouse College. King, 35, attended the historically black college in Atlanta with a scholarship sponsored by Oprah. He responded on Twitter to Breitbart’s article: “I did not concoct a lie about my race to get into @Morehouse. I did not concoct a lie about my race to get an @Oprah scholarship.”
His lifelong friends also used social media to defend the activist. Willis Polk attested on Facebook to a white mob beating King “to a bloody pulp” in high school and accused city officials in Versailles, Ky., of covering up the hate crime. He also recalls that people in their rural town believed that King was biracial and often called him the n-word “just as much, if not more than, myself or any of my black friends and family.”
This comes on the heels of Rachel Dolezal’s family outing her as white. She is the former president of the Spokane, Wash., chapter of the NAACP who set off a national debate about racial identity. Dolezal continued to self-identify as black even after her white parents revealed that she’d fabricated parts of her biography to pass as black.
Shaun King’s wife, Rai, took to Facebook to address the allegations.
“He has no secrets, but he does have a private life,” Rai King said. “His story is beautifully difficult, and painful. And I’ve actually encouraged him to tell it publicly because it is a unique expression of this country’s sordid and ridiculous history with race. But it’s his story to tell.”
The Times’ report says that King sent more than 30 tweets defending himself before returning to the topic that he’s known for: police brutality. “My life may be your trending topic but I live this. Done addressing it,” he tweeted.