Rachel Dolezal quits as president of NAACP's Spokane chapter amid race controversy

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Rachel Dolezal Steps Down As President Of Spokane's NAACP

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) -- Rachel Dolezal resigned as president of the NAACP's Spokane chapter Monday amid a furor over racial identity that erupted after her parents came forward to say she has been posing as black for years when she is actually white.

The announcement was posted on the civil rights organization's Facebook page. It said the attention surrounding Dolezal has distracted from the group's goals.

"The dialogue has unexpectedly shifted internationally to my personal identity in the context of defining race and ethnicity," according to a statement attributed to Dolezal, a longtime figure in Spokane's civil rights community who was elected to the NAACP post six months ago.

"I am consistently committed to empowering marginalized voices and believe that many individuals have been heard in the last hours and days that would not otherwise have had a platform to weigh in on this important discussion."

"Please know I will never stop fighting for human rights and will do everything in my power to help and assist, whether it means stepping up or stepping down, because this is not about me."

Dear Executive Committee and NAACP Members, It is a true honor to serve in the racial and social justice movement here...

Posted by Spokane NAACP on Monday, June 15, 2015

Meanwhile, Spokane is investigating whether she lied about her ethnicity when she landed an appointment to the city's police oversight board. On her application, she said her ethnic origins included white, black and American Indian.

Dolezal, a 37-year-old woman with a light brown complexion and dark curly hair, attended historically black Howard University, teaches African studies at a local university and was married to a black man.

The controversy over racial authenticity unfolded last week after Dolezal's parents told the media their daughter is white with a trace of Native American heritage. They produced photos of her as girl with a pale complexion and straight blond hair.

Her mother, Ruthanne Dolezal of Troy, Montana, told reporters she has had no contact with her daughter in years. She said Rachel began to "disguise herself" after her parents adopted four African-American children more than a decade ago.

Rachel Dolezal initially dismissed the controversy, saying it arose from litigation between other relatives who have divided the family. She has not returned repeated calls from The Associated Press.

Late last week, the national NAACP stood by her, saying "one's racial identity is not a qualifying criteria or disqualifying standard for NAACP leadership." But she had come under increasing pressure from local chapter members to resign.

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NAACP leader outed as white, Rachel Dolezal
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Rachel Dolezal quits as president of NAACP's Spokane chapter amid race controversy
In this image released by NBC News, former NAACP leader Rachel Dolezal appears on the "Today" show set on Tuesday, June 16, 2015, in New York. Dolezal, who resigned as head of a NAACP chapter after her parents said she is white, said Tuesday that she started identifying as black around age 5, when she drew self-portraits with a brown crayon, and "takes exception" to the contention that she tried to deceive people. Asked by Matt Lauer if she is an "an African-American woman," Dolezal said: "I identify as black." (Anthony Quintano/NBC News via AP)
FILE- In this March 2, 2015 file photo, Rachel Dolezal, president of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP, poses for a photo in her Spokane, Wash. home. Dolezal is facing questions about whether she lied about her racial identity, with her family saying she is white but has portrayed herself as black, Friday, June 12, 2015. (Colin Mulvany/The Spokesman-Review via AP, File) 
FILE - In this Friday, Jan. 16, 2015, file photo, Rachel Dolezal, center, Spokane's newly-elected NAACP president, smiles as she meets with Joseph M. King, of King's Consulting, left, and Scott Finnie, director and senior professor of Eastern Washington University's Africana Education Program, before the start of a Black Lives Matter Teach-In on Public Safety and Criminal Justice, at EWU, in Cheney, Wash. Dolezal's family members say she has falsely portrayed herself as black for years. (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review via AP, File)
In this photo taken July 24, 2009, Rachel Dolezal, a leader of the Human Rights Education Institute, stands in front of a mural she painted at the institute's offices in coeur d'alene, Idaho. (AP Photo/Nicholas K. Geranios)
(Photo via Facebook)
Washington state civil rights advocate Rachel Dolezal is seen in the NBC's "Today" show studios in Manhattan, New York June 16, 2015. Dolezal, who has been accused of falsely claiming she is African-American, said on Tuesday she identifies as black and has been doing so since she was 5 years of age. Dolezal, in an interview on NBC's "Today" television show, said a major shift in her identity came when she was doing human rights work in Idaho and newspaper stories described her as transracial, biracial and black. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith
Washington state civil rights advocate Rachel Dolezal (R) hugs family member Izaiah Dolezal after her interview on the NBC's "Today" show studios in Manhattan, New York June 16, 2015. Dolezal, who has been accused of falsely claiming she is African-American, said on Tuesday she identifies as black and has been doing so since she was 5 years of age. Dolezal, in an interview on NBC's "Today" television show, said a major shift in her identity came when she was doing human rights work in Idaho and newspaper stories described her as transracial, biracial and black. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith
Washington state civil rights advocate Rachel Dolezal (C) smiles toward family member Izaiah Dolezal (L) while her son Franklin (R) stands nearby after her interview on the NBC's "Today" show studios in Manhattan, New York June 16, 2015. Dolezal, who has been accused of falsely claiming she is African-American, said on Tuesday she identifies as black and has been doing so since she was 5 years of age. Dolezal, in an interview on NBC's "Today" television show, said a major shift in her identity came when she was doing human rights work in Idaho and newspaper stories described her as transracial, biracial and black. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith
People cheer during a protest in front of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) headquarters in Spokane, Washington June 15, 2015. Rachel Dolezal, a civil rights advocate who has been accused of falsely claiming she is black, announced her resignation on Monday as leader of a local branch of the NAACP in Washington state. REUTERS/David Ryder
Gabe Fensler, 14, center, son of demonstration organizer Kitara Johnson and Meggie Mendoza, right, listen to a speaker during a demonstration for local NAACP chapter president Rachel Dolezal to step down Monday, June 15, 2015, in Spokane, Wash. Dolezal resigned as president of the NAACP's Spokane chapter Monday just days after her parents said she is a white woman posing as black. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)
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Kitara Johnson, an NAACP member in Spokane who has been calling on Dolezal to step down, welcomed the resignation.

"That's the best thing that can happen right now," Johnson said. "We are going to stand in unity and solidarity."

Johnson said that the most important thing is to focus on the work of the NAACP, but that she hopes Dolezal remains a member of the organization.

On Friday, police said they were suspending investigations into racial harassment complaints filed before the uproar by Dolezal, including one from earlier this year in which she said she received hate mail at her office.

Police released files showing that that a hate mail package did not bear a date stamp or barcode, meaning it was probably not handled through the post office.

Dolezal's parents appeared on the "Today" show Monday and said they hoped to reconcile with their daughter.

"We hope that Rachel will get the help that she needs to deal with her identity issues. Of course, we love her," Ruthanne Dolezal said.

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