A civil rights group is standing by a prominent activist who has been accused of lying about her race.
Rachel Dolezal (37) is the head of a local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and has identified herself as at least party African-American.
The NAACP has stood behind Dolezal in the controversy of the past 24 hours and said 'one's racial identity is not a qualifying criteria or disqualifying standard for NAACP leadership'.
However, her estranged mother said she is 'being dishonest and deceptive with her identity'.
Her Montana birth certificate, revealed by her mother to CNN, say she was born to two parents who say they are Caucasian.
"We are her birth parents," Lawrence Dolezal told CNN.
"We do not understand why she feels it's necessary to misrepresent her ethnicity."
Dolezal has built a career as an advocate for the black community.
She is president of her local NAACP chapter, an academic expert on African-American culture and teaches related classes at Eastern Washington University.
According to a local newspaper, Dolezal has framed the controversy about her racial identity in the context of an ongoing legal battle for the guardianship of her adopted brother.
Dolzal's brother, who is black, sought emancipation from parents Ruthanne and Lawrence Dolezal in 2010 because of their 'physical forms of punishment', according to court documents seen by CNN.
The adopted brother wanted to live with Rachel Dolezal in a 'multiracial household where black culture is celebrated'. In 2010, the court appointed Rachel Dolezal as her brother's guardian, with the consent of Ruthanne and Lawrence.
Dolezal's story has sparked a massive reaction online, with the term 'transracial' becoming one of the top trending hashtags on Twitter.