Dolezal resigns NAACP post

Protesters rally, discuss need for integrity

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Kitara Johnson, solidarity rally organizer, is emotional while speaking to a crowd of about two dozen protestors Monday outside the NAACP office in Spokane.

SPOKANE - Rachel Dolezal, embattled president of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP, resigned Monday as those she was associated with began to distance themselves from her.

Dolezal, a former civil rights activist in Coeur d'Alene who has been masquerading as a black woman to achieve positions of power in Spokane, issued a press release early Monday saying she is stepping aside - just hours before NAACP membership planned to meet in Spokane to discuss her future with the organization.

"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," she wrote in a letter to the NAACP outlining a number of things she has accomplished in that position. "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."

The public will get to hear her side of the story today, starting with NBC's Today Show and several other NBC talk shows throughout the day.

But at least a segment of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP doesn't want to hear any more about Dolezal.

"Tonight we are going to shift the focus in Spokane," said Kitara Johnson, who had organized a petition drive and rally to call on Dolezal to resign at the regularly scheduled NAACP membership meeting Monday night. That rally was switched to a solidarity rally where protesters discussed the need for integrity.

A couple dozen people attended the rally with signs that said "#Integrity Matters."

Numerous media outlets were on hand to record the event.

"We are going to start tonight to make a conscious decision to forgive her and move forward," Johnson said. "We are not going to let this happen here again. Today we move forward. We have had enough of the self-absorbed narcissistic behavior."

Johnson said local membership of the NAACP dropped in Spokane under Dolezal's leadership. She said Dolezal went through three vice presidents during her five-month tenure in the organization. She said at one point, fewer than 10 people attended the membership meetings.

"Her last vice president resigned and said that Rachel was a very divisive person," Johnson said, adding that Dolezal always gave her the feeling that something just wasn't right with her. "When she wasn't in the limelight, something big would always happen to get her back in the limelight."

Charity Bagatsing, who helped Johnson organize the rally Monday, said she helped out because she feels Dolezal owes the community an apology. Bagatsing said she herself is not a member of the NAACP - just a "pissed-off brown chick," she added.

"But instead, now she is going to be making the circuit tomorrow," Bagatsing said. "And nobody has any idea what to expect or what she is going to tell people."

Johnson thanked the Coeur d'Alene Press for breaking the story.

"You know that opening made it possible for the rest of us to address this issue," Johnson said.

As Monday progressed, Dave Meany, director of media relations at Eastern Washington University, sent the following message to The Press:

"By contract, the part-time teaching position held by Rachel Dolezal in Eastern Washington University's Africana Education program ended Friday, June 12, 2015, as scheduled. She is no longer employed by the university."

Dolezal is no longer listed as a faculty member on the university's website.

Howard University also told the Washington Post that Dolezal sued the university for discrimination after she graduated.

When Rachel Dolezal Moore was studying in the master of fine arts graduate program at Howard University, she was obviously immersed in black culture, a professor there said. Her then-husband, Kevin Moore, was black. She was enrolled at a predominantly black university. And the subjects of her narrative portrait paintings were black.

No one questioned whether she was black, said David Smedley, an associate professor of sculpture and coordinator of Howard's sculpture program, who was her thesis adviser at the university. "She was a blue-eyed blond woman."

The City of Spokane also issued a statement Monday as the city streets began to fill with satellite trucks and journalists from news organizations throughout the country.

"We are disappointed that questions have been raised about the truthfulness of the chair of the Independent Citizen Police Ombudsman Commission," the statement said. "We are committed as a city to being transparent in our work, and the alleged misrepresentation by one of our citizen volunteers detracts from that effort. We have referred the matter to the City's Ethics Commission for a determination as to whether the answers she gave on her application for the volunteer position violated the City's Code of Ethics.

"Much has been made about ethnicity, but our concerns are focused squarely on the expectation that our volunteers adhere to the standards of truthfulness, transparency and integrity they agree to when they apply for and join a board or commission," the release continued. "The discussion has been a distraction from the work of those who strive every day to make Spokane a great place to live."

“I’m a black female in Spokane raising three black children. I’m here to show my support,” says Erica Cleveland while preparing signs for the rally.


Protesters of the NAACP support of Rachel Dolezal gather near the organization’s offices on Main Street in Spokane prior to the start of the rally.


Chris Bowers, right, and Rick Bocook chant “integrity matters” during the solidarity rally.


Kitara Johnson speaks about the importance of the rally prior to its start.


Emcee Dennis Mitchell inspires a group of protestors during a gathering Monday in Spokane.

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