This Black History Month, we honor the GAME CHANGERS: Everyday heroes whose actions make life better for the people around them. SEE ALL OUR GAME CHANGERS HERE.
Place of Residence: New York City
Why He’s a Game Changer: At the age of 14, Justus is one of the top-ranked youth chess players in the world. According to the U.S. Chess Federation, Justus, who was 12 at the time, became the youngest African-American National Master ever. And he led his Bronx middle school team to the national championship. To top it all off, Justus recently traveled to the World Youth Chess Championship in Slovenia, where he competed for the title of the world’s best chest player under 14.
Ever since I was in elementary school, my goal has always been to achieve the title of World Champion. This may appear to be a long shot to most people, but with the support from you, your foundation, my family and friends, I know I can do it,” Justus wrote in a letter to one of his benefactors, the David MacEnulty Chess Foundation.
Despite his success at such an early age, Justus is still a regular kid. He told the Grio that he loves martial arts and wants another dog. And when asked what inspires him, Justus listed God, his mom, coaching younger children, and winning in that order. His mother deserves a lot of credit for keeping him grounded and focused, especially after he was featured in the documentary “Brooklyn Castle.”
Justus has said he wants to be an international banker when he gets older. In the meantime, he’s working on video chess tutorials and is launching a national campaign to expose kids to chess.
“I didn’t think I was going to be good at chess, so just try everything, and try the things you don’t think you’d be good at. If those don’t work out, then try the things that you don’t think you’ll like,” Justus told the Norwood News.
Check out Justus in action against Norwegian chess grandmaster Magnus Carlsen here: