Rachel Dolezal Sued Historically Black University For Racial Discrimination In 2002

Chuck Ross Investigative Reporter
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Rachel Dolezal, the white Spokane, Wash. civil rights leader who pretended for years to be black, once sued Howard University, a historically black college, for racial discrimination.

Dolezal, who on Monday resigned as president of the Spokane NAACP, graduated from Howard with a master’s degree in fine arts in 2002. She filed suit the same year alleging that the school and Alfred Smith, her professor and chairman of the school’s art department, discriminated against her because of her race.

The suit was dismissed in 2005 and Dolezal — who then went by her married name of Rachel Moore — was ordered to pay Howard more than $3,700 in restitution.

In her suit, Dolezal “claimed discrimination based on race, pregnancy, family responsibilities and gender,” according to the Smoking Gun. She sued for “medical and emotional distress damages” claiming that she was unfairly denied an appointment to a teacher’s assistant post, scholarship and a post-graduate job. She also claimed that art work she had submitted for an exhibit had been removed because of the color of her skin.

Dolezal came under fire last week after it was revealed that she has falsely been claiming to be part black for the past several years. The 37-year-old has claimed that her father is black and that she has a black son. However, her biological parents, who live in Montana and are white, have come forward to dispute all of those claims. They provided a birth certificate showing that she is white and said that the boy she claims is her son is actually her adopted brother.

Dolezal’s lawsuit, in which she claimed that Howard was “permeated with discriminatory intimidation, ridicule, and insult,” was dismissed in Feb. 2004. An appeals court backed that ruling in 2005 stating that it found no evidence to support any of Dolezal’s claims.


The court noted that when Dolezal dropped off her job application she “did not apply for an advertised faculty position.” Instead, she merely “dropped off her resume and a cover letter with the Art Department following her graduation.”

Dolezal has made other sensational claims, such as that she was born in a teepee and that she has been targeted in at least nine hate crime incidents. She has made appearances on local television stations claiming that right-wing extremists and skinheads have harassed her since 2008.

While members of the Spokane NAACP chapter were reportedly upset that Dolezal had lied about her background, the civil rights group’s national office maintained its support for the activist. In a statement released Friday, the Baltimore-based NAACP said it “stands by” Dolezal. She resigned via letter on Monday, though she did not directly address accusations that she has lied about her race.

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