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Former NAACP Leader Addresses Claims Of Deception About Her Race

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- The embattled leader of the NAACP in Spokane has stepped down amid uproar about her race and that she falsely portrayed herself as black for years.

Linh Bui reports Rachel Dolezal spoke out for the first time Tuesday since her resignation.

The controversy unfolded last week after Dolezal's parents told media their daughter is white and produced photos of her as a girl with a pale complexion and straight blonde hair.

Rachel Dolezal said on NBC's "Today" show Tuesday morning that she identifies as black and that she has not been deceptive.

"This goes back to a very early age with my self-identification with the black experience as a very young child," Dolezal said.

She resigned yesterday as president of the NAACP chapter in Spokane.

Members of the local civil rights community held a rally Monday night following the development, demanding an apology for what they view as deception.

"She was one of our own marching with us and yet we don't know who she is," said one.

For nearly a decade, the 37-year-old civil rights advocate represented herself as a black woman despite her white heritage, repeatedly claiming to have been the target of racially motivated incidents. But in 2002, she sued historically black Howard University, where she was a student, for discrimination because she was white. That case was dismissed.

Her parents, who revealed her true ethnicity last week, say now is the time for her to seek help.

"I think that she needs to step back and regroup before she plunges back in," said her mother, Ruthanne Dolezal.

The city of Spokane is now investigating whether Dolezal lied about her ethnicity when she landed an appointment on its police oversight board.

For now, Dolezal is still on that oversight board. On the application, she said her ethnic origins included white, black and American Indian.

Dolezal also taught African studies at Eastern Washington University but her biography was removed from the website. The university said her contract to teach ended this month.

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