Dolezal went from the Spokane, Washington, NAACP chapter president to disgraced media sensation overnight, after it was revealed that she lied about being black. Today, the controversial leader announced her decision to step down from her post.
Dolezal’s story exploded online late last week when a local news outlet revealed that her parents confirmed the civil-rights leader and Eastern Washington University Africana Studies professor was not actually black. A subsequent local news interview with Dolezal further ignited the flame. When asked if she was African-American, she replied, “I don’t understand the question.”
In a Facebook post on the Spokane NAACP page, Dolezal addressed the situation publicly for the first time, but her six-paragraph message contains no apologies and provides little additional context.
“I have waited in deference while others expressed their feelings, beliefs, confusions and even conclusions—absent the full story,” Dolezal wrote.
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Throughout her post, Dolezal details all the work she’s done in the community on what she calls the “five Game Changers:” “Criminal Justice & Public Safety, Health & Healthcare, Education, Economic Sustainability, and Voting Rights & Political Representation.” She stresses the importance of her leadership and how she “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.”
Spokane NAACP Vice President Naima Quarles-Burnley will take over as president of the chapter.
Dolezal offered her “sincere gratitude” to the national NAACP “for their unwavering support of my leadership through this unexpected firestorm.”
Details of Dolezal’s past continue to unfold, with many questioning her motives and beliefs. And the controversy ignited a conversation about whether it was possible to be “transracial,” which in turn inspired misguided comparisons to Caitlyn Jenner and transgender issues.
Originally, Dolezal planned on addressing the situation at a Spokane NAACP meeting on Monday night. But on Sunday, the organization announced the meeting had been postponed.
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Marisa Kabas is a lifestyle reporter and activist. Her work has been published by Fusion, Fast Company, and Today. She’s also served as an editorial campaigns director for Purpose PBC, a social movement incubator.