Before his 13th birthday, Justus Williams became the youngest African American chess player to earn the master rank. Of the 77,000 U.S. Chess Federation members, less than two percent are masters, and only 13 of those are under the age of 14—which makes Justus’ accomplishment a rare achievement.

But it’s one that’s also shared by two other young African Americans. Last December, just three months after Justus’ success, Joshua Colas became a master player. And this past summer in July, James Black Jr. became a master as well.

Beyond their youth, the boys are making marks as African Americans reaching such prestige in a game with so few black players. According to the New York Times, Maurice Ashley, 45, the only African American to reach the top ranking of grandmaster, said the rarity is not surprising. “Chess just isn’t that big in the African-American community,” Ashley said.

With supportive parents who must often shoulder the high costs of professional coaches and travel expenses for faraway competitions, the boys not only love the game (each one aspires to become a grandmaster by the time he finishes high school), but have an understanding of themselves as role models.

“I think of Justus, me and Josh as pioneers for African-American kids who want to take up chess,” James told the Times.

We’re ending the day as often as possible by celebrating love. We welcome your ideas for posts. Send suggestions to submissions@colorlines.com, and be sure to put Celebrate Love in the subject line. You can send links to videos, graphics, photos, quotes, whatever. Or just chime in to the comments below and we’ll find you. Be sure to let us know you’ve got the rights to share any media you send.

To see other Love posts visit our Celebrate Love page.

Read this online at http://colorlines.com/archives/2011/11/three_african_american_boys_love_for_the_game--chess_that_is.html


Thank you for printing out this Colorlines.com article. If you liked this article, please make a donation today at colorlines.com/donate to support our ongoing news coverage, investigations and actions to promote solutions.