Did This Local Civil Rights Leader Misrepresent Herself As Black For 20 Years?

Rachel Dolezal's parents say she is White.

She is a prominent civil rights leader in Spokane, Wash., president of the city's chapter of the NAACP and chairs a city police oversight commission. But reports are now coming in that Rachel Dolezal had actually misrepresented herself as Black for decades. 

Dolezal, who is an adjunct professor of Africana Studies at Eastern Washington University, specializing in Black Studies and African American culture, is one of the leading civil rights leaders in the Spokane area and an outspoken figure on racial justice. She frequently touts her African American roots, passing herself off as a Black woman. According to her parents, however, Dolezal is White — specifically, her heritage is Czech, Swedish, German, with possible traces of Native American.

On Thursday, she reportedly dodged questions about her race and ethnicity, describing it as a multilayered issue. "That question is not as easy as it seems," she said. "There's a lot of complexities … and I don't know that everyone would understand that."

Dolezal's father, Larry Dolezal, said that he did not know why she misrepresent her race all these years, but said: "She has over the past 20 years assimilated herself into the African American community through her various advocacy and social justice work, and so that may be part of the answer."

He also added that Dolezal severed contact with him and her mother because she "doesn't want us visible in the Spokane area in her circle because we're Caucasian."

In her application for the volunteer appointment on the police oversight commission, Dolezal identified herself as White, Black and American Indian. The Spokesman-Review reported that the city council is launching a review to determine if Dolezal violated any city policies or code of ethics.

Dolezal often brings up her two black sons, one of whom her parents say is actually her adopted brother she obtained guardianship for, BuzzFeed News reported. 

Her credibility was strongly questioned when Dolezal recently reported a package in the NAACP's post office box in February that was threatening to her. But postal workers said that the envelope was neither timestamped nor cancelled, and that the only way it could have found its way there was if a postal employee or someone who had the P.O. box key put it in there.

When a KXLY interviewer asked Dolezal if she was African American, she said: "I don't understand the question."

Speaking to the Spokesman-Review, her mother, Ruthanne Dolezal, said her message to her daughter would be:


I would say, 'I love you, and honesty is the best policy.' I firmly believe that the truth is in everyone's best interest.