Rachel Dolezal Reportedly Sued Howard University in 2002 because It Favored Black Students

Rachel Dolezal
Rachel Dolezal

The former NAACP leader accused of being a white woman pretending to be black once sued a historically black university for racial discrimination, claiming Howard University favored black students over her, according to court documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times. 

Rachel Dolezal, who resigned her presidency of the NAACP chapter in Spokane, Wash., on Monday, was known as Rachel Moore when she sued Howard University in 2002 in Washington, D.C., where she was a graduate student in art.

Dolezal claimed university officials removed some of her art from a student exhibit in 2001 “for a discriminatory purpose to favor African-American students” over her, according to an appeals court’s summary of her arguments. Dolezal also claimed university officials took her scholarship away and denied her a teaching assistantship because she was pregnant.

A judge in Superior Court in the District of Columbia and an appeals court dismissed Dolezal’s claims. A spokeswoman for Howard University declined to comment Monday, calling the matter resolved.

Dolezal left her position as president of the Spokane NAACP chapter Monday after her parents revealed last week that she did not have African ancestry.

Dolezal was expected to speak out publicly in an appearance on NBC’s “Today” show on Tuesday morning.

In a statement posted Monday morning on the chapter’s Facebook page, Dolezal, whose parents say she is white, did not directly address allegations that she lied about being a black woman.

“While challenging the construct of race is at the core of evolving human consciousness,” Dolezal wrote that she did not want to distract from the larger cause of racial justice and would step aside.

“I have waited in deference while others expressed their feelings, beliefs, confusions and even conclusions — absent the full story,” Dolezal wrote. “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.”

Dolezal said Naima Quarles-Burnley, vice president of the Spokane chapter, would take over.

The NAACP’s national president, Cornell William Brooks, in an interview Monday with the Times after Dolezal resigned, said that the disgraced former chapter leader was widely liked and respected in Spokane, where there is “a great deal of disappointment and pain now.”

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Source: Los Angeles Times | Matt Pearce

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