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June 12, 2015

Spokane NAACP leader's parents say she 'disguised herself' as black

06122015_RachelDolezal KXLY/YouTube

Rachel Dolezal, president of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP, talks to KXLY4's Jeff Humphrey.

The credibility of a prominent civil rights leader in Spokane, Washington, is being questioned after her parents told local media Thursday that their daughter has been "disguising herself" as black for years, The Spokesman-Review reports.

Rachel Dolezal, 37, is the head of Spokane's NAACP chapter. She is also a part-time professor in the Africana Studies Program at Eastern Washington University. 

Dolezal's family has said that she has misrepresented much about herself in recent years.

Dolezal’s mother, Ruthanne Dolezal, said Thursday by phone from her home in Northwest Montana that she has had no contact with her daughter in years. She said her daughter began to “disguise herself” in 2006 or 2007, after the family had adopted four African-American children and Rachel Dolezal had shown an interest in portrait art.

“It’s very sad that Rachel has not just been herself,” she told The Spokesman-Review. “Her effectiveness in the causes of the African-American community would have been so much more viable, and she would have been more effective if she had just been honest with everybody.”

Dolezal's mother said the family’s ancestry is Czech, Swedish and German, with some “faint traces” of Native American heritage as well. Her Montana birth certificate lists Ruthanne and Larry Dolezal as her parents.

“She has so much to offer and so many positive experiences, it’s not necessary that she would lie," Dolezal's father told The Seattle Times. "Her advocacy doesn’t justify or excuse her for misrepresenting her ethnicity.”

In her application to Spokane's Office of Police Ombudsman Commission, Dolezal identified herself as having several ethnic origins, including white, black and American Indian.

The leader has avoided answering questions regarding her race and ethnicity. In an interview with KXLY4, Dolezal walked away when asked if she is African-American (Skip to 8:20).

The news of Dolezal's alleged false representation of her race has social media users going crazy, with some making comments about her being "transracial."

Read more from The Spokesman-Review.