Rachel Dolezal Sued Howard U. for Discrimination in 2002

The former head of the NAACP's Spokane chapter who stepped down amid a furor over claims she was a white woman posing as black filed a racial discrimination suit against Howard University in 2002.

Rachel Dolezal sued the historically black school, where she attended graduate school, for discrimination based on "race, pregnancy, family responsibilities and gender, as well as retaliation,"' according to a 2005 District of Columbia Court of Appeals ruling in the case.

Dolezal, who then went by her married name, Rachel Moore, claimed the university blocked her appointment as a teaching assistant, failed to hire her as an art teacher upon graduation and removed some of her pieces from a student art exhibition in favor of works by African-American students.

One student on the Howard campus Monday night said the substance of Dolezal's work should not be overlooked amid the controversy. 

"I feel like she stood up for a good cause," he said. "She stood up for our rights, even though she wasn't quote-unquote one of us."

The appeals court upheld a lower court's ruling throwing out the lawsuit. "The NAACP is not concerned with the racial identity of our leadership but the institutional integrity of our advocacy," the organization's president and CEO, Cornell William Brooks, said in a statement. "Our focus must be on issues, not individuals."

Breaking her silence, Dolezal is scheduled to speak with Matt Lauer on the TODAY show Tuesday at 7 a.m.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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