Community Reels After Local NAACP President’s Parents Reveal She Isn’t Black

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The biological parents of civil rights activist Rachel Dolezal, president of the NAACP’s Spokane, Washington chapter, have revealed shocking news about their daughter’s true racial identity. Dolezal, 37, is the chair of the Office of Police Ombudsman Commission and professor of Africana Studies at Eastern Washington University, where she specializes in Black Studies and African American culture. She has regularly spoken out on local media about racial justice, but it turns out that there is information that she may have been keeping from everyone.

In a recorded interview with the local Spokane news channel KREM 2 News this week, Ruthanne and Larry Dolezal said their daughter’s biological heritage is not African American, but German and Czech, with traces of Native American ancestry.

Her parents said Rachel had black adopted siblings, a social circle consisting primarily of African Americans, and she was formerly married to a black man. After her divorce in 2004, Rachel began identifying herself differently. She started claiming to be partially African American and the daughter of biracial parents. According to her mother,

It’s very sad that Rachel has not just been herself. Her effectiveness in the causes of the African-American community would have been so much more viable, and she would have been more effective if she had just been honest with everybody.

The Dolezals state that they do not have a problem with their daughter being an advocate for civil rights; their problem is that she is being deceptive about who she really is. The same day the Dolezals were interviewed, Rachel told KREM 2 News that due to an on-going legal issue she does not speak to her parents. She brushed off the controversy surrounding her racial identity as part of a family dispute. Rachel would not directly answer the newspaper’s questions about her ethnicity and said she wanted to talk to local NAACP leadership first. “I feel like I owe my executive committee a conversation.”

In an interview with KXLY, she spoke about multiple alleged racist threats made against her, including nooses found near her home. Each case was closed by police because of insufficient evidence to prosecute and some even questioned if she did these things herself. When asked during the interview if she is African American, Dolezal said that she did not understand the question and walked away. Mayor David Condon and the council president Ben Stuckart said in a joint statement,

We are gathering facts to determine if any city policies related to volunteer boards and commissions have been violated. That information will be reviewed by the city council, which has oversight of city boards and commissions.

The former president of the Spokane NAACP, James Wilburn, told the CDA Press that although it is traditional to have a person of color in Rachel’s position, that has not always been the case. Wilburn believes that Dolezal’s race was not what had qualified her for the job.

Dolezal has been trending all over social media, with some people even seeing it as a comical matter.

People seem to believe that Rachel would have been more effective in white communities challenging white supremacy, rather than identifying herself as black. Most are upset that Rachel was claiming an oppression that she never truly endured.

The question that everyone wants answered is simply why? I truly hope that Rachel will be able to comfortably embrace who she is while still being an advocate for civil rights.

Taelor Bentley
Taelor is a member of the Hampton University Class of 2017 and was a Law Street Media Fellow for the Summer of 2015. Contact Taelor at



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