The Chronicle of Higher Education
June 15th, 2015
An adjunct instructor at Eastern Washington University became the
focus of a fierce debate about race and identity last week, when her
parents asserted that she was white, despite having passed herself off
for years as a black woman.
Rachel A. Dolezal, 37, earned a master’s degree in fine arts from
Howard University and has worked as an adjunct in Eastern Washington’s Africana-education program,
teaching such courses as African and African-American art history and
“the Black Woman’s Struggle.” Ms. Dolezal is president of the Spokane,
Wash., chapter of the NAACP, and earned a track record as a civil-rights advocate through her work locally and in Mississippi.
Spokane’s mayor appointed Ms. Dolezal to serve on a police-ombudsman commission, and last week local leaders said the city would investigate
whether she had lied on her application to serve on that body. When she
applied, she checked several boxes to indicate her race, including
white and black.