Woman Discovers She’s White After 70 Years

A Texas woman has spent her entire life believing that she was Black.

But Verda Byrd’s story is very different from that of Rachel Dolezal’s. Unlike the former Spokane NAACP chapter president, she had no idea that she was born white.

“She lied about her race,” Byrd told USA Today. “I didn’t lie because I didn’t know.”

Byrd considers herself African American. “I’m comfortable with being a Black woman,” she said.

Byrd’s identity comes through an incredible set of circumstances. Born to Earl and Daisy Beagle in 1942, she was named Jeanette by her white parents.

Her father abandoned the family, leaving her mother with 10 children to care for. But after Daisy Beagle fell 30 feet to the ground in a trolley accident, the state of Missouri took her children away from her due to her inability to care for them.

Jeanette was adopted by a well-to-do Black family who lived in Kansas. Her name was changed to Verda, and as an only child, she lived a good life as well…Black.

Byrd married twice and gave birth to one child. In 2013, she started searching for her biological parents after her mother, Edwinna, came clean about the adoption. However, Byrd’s adoptive mother didn’t provide any more details about her birth parents.

“My adoptive mother, Edwinna Wagner, never told me that she had adopted a white baby,” she said. “She took it to her grave that she had a white daughter.”

“It’s was unbelievable,” Byrd said of learning her biological parents and siblings were white. “I grew up not questioning birth or anything else because it was never told to me that I was born white.”

Byrd lived 70 years with absolutely no clue of her true heritage.

She also contends that while her and Rachel Dolezal made the same decision about their race, it was under different circumstances and for personal reasons.

Byrd, who has reunited with her siblings, says they don’t discuss race.


While the circumstances of Dolezal and Byrd’s paths to identifying as Black are different, is it acceptable for Byrd to claim the race despite knowing her true origins? Take our poll and let us know what you think.