NAACP leader who called herself black sued university for discriminating against her as white

Rachel Dolezal. (AFP Photo/Youn Kwak)
Court documents show that Rachel Dolezal of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) had previously sued Howard University for racial discrimination against her as a white woman.

The problem? It was revealed last week that Dolezal has long been identifying herself as a black woman, most recently as head of a NAACP chapter in Spokane, Washington – a position from which she resigned on Monday.

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The court documents, uncovered by The Smoking Gun, show that Rachel Dolezal, then known as Rachel Moore, named Howard University and the then-head of the art department in a lawsuit filed in Washington, DC superior court in 2002, alleging “discrimination based on race, pregnancy, family responsibilities and gender.”

Dolezal/Moore had graduated from Howard University with a Master of Fine Arts in 2002. In the complaint, she contended that Howard was “permeated with discriminatory intimidation, ridicule, and insult.”

Specially, she said Professor Alfred Smith, as chair of the University’s Department of Art, blocked her appointment to a teaching assistant post, rejected her application for a post-graduate instructorship and denied her scholarship aid while she was a student. Dolezal also claimed the university had removed some of her work from a February 2001 student exhibition “motivated by a discriminatory purpose to favor African-American student over” herself.

The complaint was dismissed 18 months later in February 2004. Judge Zoe Bush found no evidence that Howard University had discriminated against Dolezal on the basis of race or other factors, and the appeals courts affirmed the court’s decision. Dolezal was ordered to pay the university fees of more than $2,700 and almost an additional $1,000 for court delays.

On Monday, Dolezal resigned from her position as president of the NAACP chapter in Spokane, Washington. The resignation was issued in the form of a statement published to the Spokane NAACP Facebook page.

"It is with complete allegiance to the cause of racial and social justice and the NAACP that I step aside from the Presidency and pass the baton to my Vice President, Naima Quarles-Burnley,” Dolezal wrote.

Earlier reports said that Dolezal was expected to meet with NAACP members to address the controversy over her identity. Although she chose to identify herself as a black woman, her true identity was revealed when local Spokane news reporters, following up on an allegation that the local NAACP chapter and president had received hate mail, looked into what they thought were inconsistencies and spoke to her parents. They discovered that both of them were white.

In her resignation statement, Dolezal also added, “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. It's about justice.”

“This is not me quitting; this is a continuum,” she continued. “It's about moving the cause of human rights and the Black Liberation Movement along the continuum from Resistance to Chattel Slavery to Abolition to Defiance of Jim Crow to the building of Black Wall Street to the Civil Rights and Black Power Movement to the ‪#‎BlackLivesMatter‬ movement and into a future of self-determination and empowerment.”