Rachel Dolezal, NAACP Leader, Questioned About Race as Parents Reportedly Say She’s White
Authorities are investigating whether Rachel Dolezal misrepresented her race.
— -- Authorities in Spokane, Washington, are investigating whether the president of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP misrepresented her race when applying for the city’s Office of Police Ombudsman Commission.
Montana residents Ruthanne and Lawrence Dolezal told KXLY that they are Rachel Dolezal's biological parents, and that they are both white. The two are listed as Dolezal's parents on her birth certificate, ABC affiliate KXLY reported.
For years, Dolezal, 37, has identified herself publicly as African-American -- but the city is investigating whether Dolezal misidentified her race on a city form when applying for a spot on the Police Ombudsman Commission, on which she is now chairwoman. On the city application form, Dolezal identified herself as white, black and American Indian, KXLY reported.
“We are committed to independent citizen oversight and take very seriously the concerns raised regarding the chair of the independent citizen police ombudsman commission,” Mayor David Condon and City Council President Ben Stuckart said in a statement issued Thursday. “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 National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, or NAACP, is open to people of all races, and the organization said Dolezal's racial identity is not an issue for the group.
"One’s racial identity is not a qualifying criteria or disqualifying standard for NAACP leadership," the NAACP said in a statement. "The NAACP Alaska-Oregon-Washington State Conference stands behind Ms. Dolezal’s advocacy record."
KXLY reporter Jeff Humphrey asked Dolezal about her lineage in an on-camera interview Wednesday, showing a photo that had circulated on social media earlier this year showing Dolezal and an African-American man who had been identified as her father.
“I was wondering if your dad really is an African-American man,” Humphrey said.
“That’s a very. ... I don’t know what you’re implying,” Dolezal responded.
“Are you African-American?” Humphrey asked.
“I don’t understand the question of-- I did tell you that yes, that’s my dad. And he was unable to come [for a meeting] in January,” Dolezal said.
Before answering any further questions Dolezal stormed away.
ABC News' efforts to reach Dolezal this morning were unsuccessful.
Dolezal has said she has an extensive background in civil rights efforts. According to her biography on the website for Eastern Washington University, where she is an adjunct professor in the Africana Studies program, Dolezal received her master’s degree from Howard University and previously worked at the Human Rights Education Institute in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
"I think we all need more awareness. I want to enhance my own awareness of things," she said in a 2009 interview with the Coeur d’Alene Press. "I'm kind of on a mission to educate myself and being involved in educating others forces you to continue to educate yourself.”
As news reports regarding the city’s investigation began to emerge Thursday, Dolezal stripped most of the images from her Facebook page.
ABC News' Emily Shapiro contributed to this report.
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