NAACP official Rachel Dolezal resigns amid controversy over racial identity

Michael Walsh

Rachel Dolezal stepped down from her position as the president of an NAACP chapter in Washington State on Monday – days after her racial identity became a national controversy

The civil rights activist, 37, made the announcement in an open letter posted on Facebook to the organization’s executive committee and members.

“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,” she wrote.

Dolezal said that her chapter in Spokane has been dedicated to fighting against injustices the African-American community faces, such as police brutality, biased school curriculums and economic disenfranchisement.

“And yet, the dialogue has unexpectedly shifted internationally to my personal identity in the context of defining race and ethnicity,” she wrote.

Last week, Dolezal's racial identity became a major news story after Lawrence and Ruthanne Dolezal, a white couple from Montana, identified themselves as her biological parents. 

They said their daughter is mainly of German and Czech descent, despite the fact that she identified herself publicly as biracial and implied her biological father is black.

In an interview with The Spokesman-Review, when she was asked to identify her race, she said: “There’s a lot of complexities … and I don’t know that everyone would understand that.”

Dolezal again seemed to touch on the idea of fluid racial identity in her resignation lstter, when she wrote that challenging the “construct of race” is central to “evolving human consciousness.”

She vowed to always fight for “what is right and good in this world” and thanked everyone who had supported her throughout the media firestorm.

The NAACP released a statement Friday in support of Dolezal.

It says the NAACP stands behind her advocacy record, and that a person's race does not qualify or disqualify him or her from taking leadership roles within the organization.

Dolezal received her master’s degree from Howard University and teaches Africana studies at Eastern Washington University.

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