In 2011, Shaun King was the lead pastor of Courageous Church in midtown Atlanta. Vino Wong vwong@ajc.com

Activist Shaun King, a Morehouse grad, denies lying about race

In a series of posts on his social media accounts, racial justice activist and Morehouse College graduate Shaun King says he has never lied about his race or a brutal attack he suffered 20 years ago.

“First off, the key facts about my biological relatives are all wrong. They tried, but my family, like many of yours, is one big mess,” King posted on Twitter. “If you have known me from when I was in elementary school at Huntertown Elementary until now, you’ve known me as black or bi-racial.”

>> Read more trending stories  

King has previously said his mother is white and his father is black, and that the assault he sustained led to his passion to help others, the New York Times reported. King was a prominent part of the “Black Lives Matter” movement that originated after unarmed teenager Michael Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson, Mo., police officer. More than 170,000 people follow him on Twitter.

But last week, King’s background has been questioned by conservative bloggers who claim he has two white parents, and that he was never attacked by a white mob in high school. King quickly became a trending topic on social media, drawing immediate comparisons to Rachel Dolezal, a former president of the Spokane, Wash., chapter of the NAACP. Dolezal resigned in June after her parents revealed that she is white, though she identifies as being black.

King said he’s never publicly told anyone his specific racial background.

“Out of LOVE for my family, I’ve never gone public with my racial story because it’s hurtful, scandalous, and it’s MY STORY,” King posted online.

King and his wife, who is black, have three biological children and have custody of two nieces. Rai King defended her husband in a Facebook post, stating that her family has received death threats for more than a year, forcing her to hide the location of her children.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.