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Adopted 70-year-old woman who thought she was black discovers she’s white after tracing birth mother
Verda Byrd has told people she is black her whole life – but she is no Rachel Dolezal.
The woman from Converse, Texas, was born Jeanette Beagle in September 1942, into a family of 10 children.
When her father walked out on the family and her mother was severely injured in a fall, the children were removed from the home.
Jeanette was then adopted by Ray and Edwinna Wagner, a financially secure black family in Newton, Kansas, and she grew up as their only child.
Mrs Byrd got married twice and had a daughter.
In 2013, she decided to start looking for information about her biological parents.
It was then – at the age of 70 – her elderly adoptive mother revealed to her that her birth parents were white.
However she did not tell Mrs Byrd anything else and soon died.
‘She took it to her grave that she had a white daughter,’ Mrs Byrd told KENS 5 TV.
Mrs Byrd was understandably shocked at the revelation.
‘It’s was unbelievable,’ she said.
However, despite the startling information, it did not change the way Mrs Byrd sees herself – as the daughter of two black parents.
‘I’m comfortable with being a black woman,’ she told The Register.
‘I grew up not questioning birth or anything else because it was never told to me that I was born white.’
That is why Mrs Byrd took offense to the saga surrounding Rachel Dolezal, who resigned as head of the NAACP’s Spokane, Washington, chapter after her parents outed her as a white woman pretending to be black.
‘She lied about her race,’ Byrd said. ’I didn’t lie because I didn’t know.’
In the light of Dolezal’s outing as a white woman, she appeared on the Today show and was asked by Matt Lauer if she was an ‘an African-American woman,’
Dolezal, who appears fair and with straight blond hair in childhood photos, now presents a light brown complexion, said: ‘I identify as black.’
She said on NBC that her dark curly hair is ‘a weave.’
She said on Today that she started identifying as black around age five and that she ‘takes exception’ to the contention she tried to deceive people.