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Monday 26 September 2016

Civil rights activist accused of lying that she's black

David Kearns

Published 12/06/2015 | 17:56

Rachel Dolezal
Rachel Dolezal

A prominent civil rights activist is the US is facing claims she misrepresented herself as a black woman after her parents said she was white.

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Rachel Dolezal, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) chapter in Spokane Washington, has refused to answer claims about her ethnicity following an interview with her parents by a local TV station.

The parents of the Washington based civil rights activist told news channel KREM 2 that their daughter was “misrepresenting herself as a black woman when her heritage is white”.

“Rachel has wanted to be somebody she’s not. She’s chosen not to just be herself, but to represent herself as an African American woman or a bi-racial person and that’s simply not true,” Ruthanne Dolezal said. 

Rachel Dolezal at her wedding in 2004
Rachel Dolezal at her wedding in 2004

Rachel Dolezal, a professor of Africana studies at Eastern Washington University, has spoken out regularly on local media about racial justice.

In an interview about her life, she claimed to have a traumatic upbringing because her parents would “punish us by skin complexion”.

She also described being raised in a teepee and claims to have been the victim of eight documented hate crimes in Idaho.

Her parents, however, said none of this was true, saying their daughter’s biological heritage was “not African American but German and Czech, with traces of Native American ancestry”.

They said their daughter had adopted black siblings and had attended school in Mississippi, where her social circle had primarily been African American.

Rachel Dolezal in 2014
Rachel Dolezal in 2014

Ms Dolezal, they said, later married, and subsequently divorced, an African American man in 2004, following which she began to adapt her appearance.

Her mother even offered photographic proof.

While the 37-year-old divorcee currently sports tight, dark curls, her mom showed KREM 2 News photos of their daughter as a fair haired blonde with freckles.

On Wednesday, a reporter from KXLY confronted Ms Dolezal with a photo of her with the African-American man while on camera.

The parents of Rachel Dolezal claiming their daughter is white
The parents of Rachel Dolezal claiming their daughter is white

“Ma'am, I was wondering if your dad really is an African-American man,” the KXLY reporter asked.

“I don't understand the question,” Ms Dolezal replied.

“Are your parents white?' the reporter continues, at which point Ms Dolezal removes her mic and walks away.

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