Nicholas K. Geranios/AP

The NAACP leader who allegedly pretended to be black for years stepped down from her post Monday afternoon

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June 15, 2015 08:30 AM

Rachel Dolezal has stepped down from her position as leader of the Spokane, Washington, chapter of the NAACP after her family accused her of lying about being black for many years.

In a lengthy statement to the NAACP Monday afternoon, she listed the many issues facing the organization, including police brutality and health inequities, but added, “And yet, the dialogue has unexpectedly shifted internationally to my personal identity in the context of defining race and ethnicity.”

“I have waited in deference while others expressed their feelings, beliefs, confusions and even conclusions – absent the full story. I am consistently committed to empowering marginalized voices and believe that many individuals have been heard in the last hours and days that would not otherwise have had a platform to weigh in on this important discussion,” she wrote. “Additionally, I have always deferred to the state and national NAACP leadership and offer my sincere gratitude for their unwavering support of my leadership through this unexpected firestorm.”

Dolezal, 37, suggested that despite the impact of her “current storm,” the NAACP should continue to focus on the five “Game Changers (Criminal Justice & Public Safety, Health & Healthcare, Education, Economic Sustainability, and Voting Rights & Political Representation).”

“The movement is larger than a moment in time or a single person’s story, and I hope that everyone offers their robust support of the Journey for Justice campaign that the NAACP launches today!”

Dolezal also announced that the vice president of the Spokane chapter, Naima Quarles-Burnley, would be taking over her position.

“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. 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.”

Dolezal signed the letter, “With much love and a commitment to always fight for what is right and good in this world.”

The race scandal surrounding Dolezal was first brought to light by her parents, Ruthanne and Larry Dolezal, who spoke out about their embattled daughter on the Today show Monday morning.

Dolezal’s parents provided photo evidence that she was their birth daughter to a local newspaper last week. Dolezal initially dismissed the controversy as the result of litigation among the family over allegations of past abuse.

“Those are all false claims, I think Rachel is trying to damage her biological family,” Ruthanne told Savannah Guthrie via satellite on Monday.

Larry and Ruthanne, who said Dolezal has “distanced herself from us,” told Guthrie that although their daughter gradually began identifying herself as a black woman in 2007, they had never before been approached by the media.

Rutheanne and Larry Dolezal

“We had never been asked to be involved, we had never been questioned before,” he said. “Just short of a week ago we were contacted by the Spokesman-Review and I guess it was part of some investigative reporting that was being done.”

The Dolezals said they decided to reveal their daughter’s true identity because they raised their children to “tell the truth,” and they wanted to emulate that in their own behavior.

Larry and Ruthanne also said that Dolezal’s upbringing was devoid of abuse, despite her allegations.

“She knows that we were not abusive parents, people who know us also know that, and before Rachel tried to change her identity she was always very proud of us as her parents,” Ruthanne said.

Despite the media firestorm, the Dolezals still hold out hope for an eventual reconciliation.

“We’re always ready as parents to forgive and move on,” Larry said.

Until then, Ruthanne hopes Dolezal will “get the help that she needs to deal with her identity issues.”

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