Civil rights leaders in this largely white city that lies between the Cascade and Rocky mountains are worried that the ruse perpetrated by former NAACP leader Rachel Dolezal will hurt efforts to move the region beyond a troubled racial past.
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) Reports:
Dolezal resigned her NAACP post this week after her parents revealed she was a white woman who for years posed as black.
“I think it is a setback,” said Virla Spencer, 36, of Spokane, who is black. “It’s sad we have to focus so much on this when there is so much more work to do.”
Spokane, a city of 210,000, is 90 percent white and the major population center of the intermountain region known as the Inland Northwest. Only about 2 percent of Spokane, which is about 270 miles east of Seattle, is black. The Aryan Nations, a neo-Nazi organization, was for decades based north of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Its members exported violence and crime throughout the region.
The group was bankrupted in 2000 following a lawsuit pursued by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and it largely ceased to exist. Its legacy persists, however, to the frustration of many. Some members of the movement remained in the area, including one who said he wanted to build a new compound in northern Idaho.
Katari Johnson, an NAACP member who started a petition demanding that Dolezal resign, said the group had been damaged by Dolezal’s actions. “The NAACP has some work to do,” Johnson said.
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