I just want to give a big hand to the black fathers out there who love and raise their kids with no credit, people have said to me why should we give credit to a man who is doing what he is supposed to be doing? The reason why is because the fact that their are still even black fathers around after our history and the bashing they get from the media is a miracle in its self. Men from other races haven’t been hounded and attacked as much as black men have and for this reason I salute you.
On his 21st birthday, Keraun Harris received a non-traditional birthday drink: a celebratory cup of coffee, infused with Jolly Ranchers for sweetness (there were no sugar packets available) and delivered to him by his middle-aged cellmate.
“Congratulations,” the cellmate said.
Harris, a Houston native, was serving a two-and-a-half year sentence at the Texas State Penitentiary, the first of two prison stays he did for robbery and credit card abuse. And around the time of that cup of coffee, he said, he had a realization: this was not the life he wanted.
Six years later, Harris has turned things around in dramatic fashion. After getting out of prison, he started making comedy videos for Instagram, Vine, and YouTube under the moniker “King Keraun.” These videos—most of which were shorter than 15 seconds, the maximum length allowed by Instagram—dealt with the usual topics: relationships, family, football. But they were funny and relatable, and they came at a time when big companies were trying to capitalize on the appeal of social media celebrities. King Keraun’s videos got him noticed, first in Houston, and then by the larger internet fame complex.
What happened next was a modernized version of the classic Hollywood fairy tale: agents swarmed, entertainment mogul Russell Simmons brought him to L.A. and became his mentor, and brands clamored to place their products in his Vines and Instagram videos. He amassed 1.4 million Instagram followers, 1.8 million Facebook likes, and more than 100 million Vine loops. Soon, Keraun was part of an elite crew of young, black social media celebrities that included King Bach, Max Jr., and Jerry Purpdrank, who collectively entertained the market segments known as “Black Instagram” and “Black Vine” (both of which are separate from Black Twitter, but no less real or distinctive).
Along the way, King Keraun met Simone Shepherd, another social media star who converted a series of short comedy bits into a lucrative career. (3.1 million Vine followers, 405,000 Instagram followers, 300,000 Facebook fans.) The two started appearing in each others’ videos, fell hard, and started dating. These days, they don’t advertise their relationship on their social channels, but they’re not exactly keeping it a secret, either.
“We’re not really outright with it,” Shepherd says. “[Our fans] see us in each others’ videos every day, but we let them assume what they want to assume.”
NEW YORK – Maurice Ashley was 14 when he saw a high school friend playing chess and challenged him to a match. He lost badly, but it sparked a love affair that started him playing nearly non-stop ever since.
There were the countless hours competing against the hustlers in city parks, and the serious players at chess clubs in Manhattan. There were the years spent against increasingly tougher competition in college, and ultimately against the best of the best at tournaments around the country and abroad.
All that playing has led the 50-year-old Ashley to some trailblazing accomplishments — the first black person to be designated as a chess grandmaster, and last Wednesday, the first black person to be inducted into the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame in St. Louis. He received his honor as the U.S. Chess Championship got underway, with Ashley taking on commentating duties.
When he got the call in January that he was being inducted, for his contributions as a player, coach and commentator, Ashley said tears came to his eyes.