Family secret

African-American woman finds out she’s white after 70 years

Verda Byrd of Converse, Texas, was recently taken aback by the story of Rachel Dolezal pretending to be a black woman because it oddly paralleled her own life.  The difference, Byrd told USA Today, is that Dolezal “lied about her race. I didn’t lie because I didn’t know.” Byrd was born in 1942 to a white couple who named her Jeanette Beagle. When she was a little girl circumstances led to her being adopted by an African-American couple as their only child. Her adoptive parents changed her name to Verda Wagner and, though she always knew she was adopted, they treated her like a fair-skinned black child. “My adoptive mother, Edwinna Wagner, never told me she had adopted a white baby, she took it to her grave that she had a white daughter,” Byrd said. It was only after searching for her biological parents in 2013 that Byrd found out her biological parents were white. She said the realization was “unbelievable” since she “grew up not questioning birth or anything else because it was never told to me that I was born white.” Byrd admits that she and Rachel Dolezal made the same choice, though under very different circumstances. “I’m comfortable with being a black woman,” she said.

Read the full story at USA Today.

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