Woman who pretended to be black 'sued university for anti-white discrimination'
Published 16/06/2015 | 07:51
RACHEL Dolezal, a civil rights advocate who has been accused of falsely claiming she is black, announced her resignation on Monday as leader of a local branch of the NAACP in Washington state.
Dolezal, 37, who served as president of the Spokane chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the country's oldest and largest civil rights organization, said the controversy over her race had shifted dialogue away from key social and political issues.
"It is with complete allegiance to the cause of racial and social justice and the NAACP that I step aside from the presidency and pass the baton to my vice president, Naima Quarles-Burnley," Dolezal said in a statement on the NAACP Spokane chapter's Facebook page.
Dolezal came under intense scrutiny last week after questions emerged about her racial background and a white couple who identified themselves as her biological parents came forward to say she had misrepresented herself as black.
The image that has emerged of Dolezal is of a woman who was raised in a home with adopted black siblings, enrolled at historically black Howard University and later sued the Washington, D.C., school on grounds it discriminated against her because she was white.
Dolezal, who also holds a post in Spokane's city government, identified herself as white, African-American and Native American on her application, City Council President Ben Stuckart said.
He said the city had opened an investigation of the veracity of her application. Stuckart said Dolezal had filed police complaints of racial discrimination, most recently that she received hate mail.
Court records show that while a graduate student in the fine arts program at Howard, Dolezal filed a lawsuit against the school claiming she was discriminated against for her race, gender and pregnancy. She lost the case, and an appeals court ordered her to repay the university's legal costs.
Dolezal sued Howard under her married name, Rachel Moore, court records show. Her former husband, Kevin Moore, is black, the Washington Post reported.
In announcing her resignation from the NAACP, Dolezal said she had remained quiet through the controversy out of respect for the work of the civil rights group. She did not directly address whether she had misrepresented her race.
"The dialogue has unexpectedly shifted internationally to my personal identity in the context of defining race and ethnicity," she said. "I have waited in deference while others expressed their feelings, beliefs, confusions and even conclusions - absent the full story."
The NAACP said on Monday that Dolezal had resigned from the Spokane chapter to ensure the group's work could focus on civil and human rights.
"The NAACP is not concerned with the racial identity of our leadership but the institutional integrity of our advocacy," President Cornell William Brooks said.
A Montana couple identified as Dolezal's parents said the family was of European and Native American descent. They told CNN and Spokane media they had lost touch with their daughter but that she had showed an interest in diversity and black culture, especially after the couple adopted Black children.
Recently, a photo posted on the Spokane NAACP's Facebook page showed Dolezal with a black man described as her father. When a reporter for a Spokane broadcaster asked her last week if she was black, she said she did not understand the question and walked away.
Until Friday, she held an adjunct teaching role in the Africana Studies Program at Eastern Washington University.
University spokesman David Meany said Dolezal's contract with the school expired last week and declined to comment on whether it would be renewed.