By Justin Wm. Moyer, the Washington Post

A controversy is raging over whether a prominent Washington state civil rights activist and Howard University graduate who claimed she was African American is actually white.

Rachel Dolezal, 37, is the president of the Spokane NAACP and has claimed to be the victim of a number of hate crimes. As questions were raised about the veracity of some of her reports this week, a white couple from Montana came forward to claim that Dolezal is their daughter.

Earlier this week, KXLY4 asked Dolezal about a photo posted to the NAACP chapter’s Facebook page of a black man identified as Dolezal’s father…

“I don’t understand the question,” Dolezal said. She walked off-camera as Humphrey asked: “Are your parents, are they white?”

Dolezal did not return requests for comment.

In a telephone interview with The Washington Post and others, Lawrence and Ruthanne Dolezal of Troy, Mont., said Rachel Dolezal is their daughter, and that they are Caucasian.

“There seems to be some question of how Rachel is representing her identity and ethnicity,” Lawrence Dolezal said. “We are definitely her birth parents. We are both of Caucasian and European descent — Czech, German and a few other things.”

The Dolezals provided The Post with family photos of Rachel as well as what they said was her birth certificate…

Purportedly a photo of Dolazel as a child, provided by her famiy.

Purportedly a photo of Dolezal as a child, provided by her estranged parents

Lawrence and Ruthanne Dolezal, a Christian couple who adopted four young children — two of whom are black — while Rachel was a teenager, said her decision to misrepresent her racial background, if that’s what she’s doing, may be related to her family and social justice work.

“The adoption of the children definitely fueled her interest as a teenager in being involved with people of color,” Ruthanne Dolezal said. “We’ve always had friends of different ethnicities. It was a natural thing for her.”…

Lawrence Dolezal said. “And ever since then she’s been involved in social justice advocacy for African Americans. She assimilated into that culture so strongly that that’s where she transferred her identity.”

He added: “But unfortunately, she is not ethnically by birth African American. She is our daughter by birth. And that’s the way it is.”

Rachel Dolezal did not return requests for comment. However, she dodged questions about her race this week after allegations that some hate crimes she had reported were fabricated.

“That question is not as easy as it seems,” Dolezal said after being contacted by the Spokane Spokesman-Review at Eastern Washington University, where she is a part-time professor in the Africana studies program. “There’s a lot of complexities … and I don’t know that everyone would understand that.”

She added: “We’re all from the African continent.”…

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