Rachel Dolezal, White Woman and Ousted NAACP Leader, Sued Historically Black Howard University for Discrimination

Howard University
Howard University in Washington D.C. John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images

In 2002, Rachel Dolezal sued Howard University, the historically black school she attended. Dolezal claimed the university discriminated against her on the basis of “race, pregnancy, family responsibilities and gender,” according to documents obtained by The Smoking Gun.

Dolezal, a former NAACP leader, became the center of controversy, after her parents revealed she is white, not black as she purported to be for many years. Dolezal resigned from her role within the NAACP because of the scandal but did not address faking her race. At one time, she posted a photograph of an African-American man in which she claimed he was her father. Her parents, however, provided a birth certificate proving they were her parents. Both of them are white.

In the lawsuit against the university, Dolezal claimed the chairman of the art department and school as a whole had “blocked her appointment to a teaching assistantship…rejected her application for an instructorship...and denied her scholarship aid while a student.”

She also claimed that her artwork was removed from a student exhibition “by a discriminatory purpose to favor African-American students over Moore [Dolezal’s maiden name].”

Dolezal hoped to obtain damages due to “medical and emotional distress” from Howard, but a judge dismissed the lawsuit. Instead, she was ordered to pay the school over $3,000 in reimbursement payments.