Spokane NAACP leader Rachel Dolezal falsely portrays herself as black, family says

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Controversy is swirling around one of the Spokane region’s most prominent civil rights activists, with family members saying the local leader of the NAACP has falsely portrayed herself as black for years.

Rachel Dolezal is president of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP, chair of the city’s Office of Police Ombudsman Commission, and an adjunct professor at Eastern Washington University.

The Spokesman-Review reported Thursday that questions have arisen about her background and her numerous complaints to police harassment. The story was first reported by the Coeur d’Alene Press.

Dolezal’s mother, Ruthanne, says the family’s ancestry is Czech, Swedish and German, with a touch of Native American heritage.

According to her biological parents, Ruthanne and Larry, both white, the daughter began to change their physical appearance when she divorced in 2004. "Rachel wanted to be someone she is not. She chose to present herself as an african american woman or bi-racial, which simply is not true. "

In an interview with television station in Spokane "KREM 2 News", her parents showed photos of Rachel's childhood, a fair-skinned girl and straight blond hair, as well as her birth certificate.

Dolezal has identified herself in application materials as white, black and Native American.

Police say they have found little evidence of racial harassment.

Rachel, 37, adopted two black siblings, marrying later with an african-american, from whom she divorced 11 years ago. Besides being president of an organization of civil rights of minorities blacks in Spokane (NAACP), she is professor of African Studies at the University of Eastern Washington. It is a recurring figure in the media when it comes to talking about racial justice.

Before reacting publicly to parents' statements - from whom she does not maintain a relationship - the activist said she would first talk to the direction of the organization representing the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

"The question is not as simple as it seems. There are many complexities and I know everyone will understand that. We are all descendents from the African continent," she said.