A 75-year-old woman who was adopted by a black couple when she was a young child waited 70 years before discovering that her biological parents were white.
Verda Byrd of Converse, Texas says that she lived her life under the assumption that she was an African-American.
The woman formerly known as Jeanette Beagle was born in September 1942 into a family of 10 children, according to KENS-TV.
When her father, Earl Beagle, walked out on the family in 1943 and her mother, Daisy, was severely injured after falling in a trolley accident, the children were removed from the home.
Verda Byrd of Converse, Texas spent 70 years of her life thinking she was African-American
In 2013, after her mother told her she was adopted, Byrd discovered that her biological parents were white
She was adopted by Ray and Edwinna Wagner, a financially secure black family in Newton, Kansas
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.
The couple then changed the girl’s name to Verda Ann Wagner.
Verda lived in a financially secure household thanks to her father, who earned a good living as a railroad porter.
She was always regarded as a fair-skinned black child.
When her father, Earl Beagle, walked out on the family in 1943 and her mother, Daisy, was severely injured after falling in a trolley accident, the children were removed from the home
Byrd (far right) was recently reunited with her biological siblings
‘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.’
Byrd got married twice and had a daughter.
In 2013, Edwinna Wagner revealed to Verda that she had been adopted, though she did not reveal anything about her real parents.
That’s when Verda decided to search for her biological parents. She was shocked by what she discovered.
Her story is the subject of a new autobiography, Seventy Years of Blackness
‘It’s was unbelievable,’ she said when talking about her reaction to the news that she and her biological 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’s story is now the subject of an autobiography, Seventy Years of Blackness.
She first revealed her story in 2015, around the same time when the nation was riveted by Rachel Dolezal.
Dolezal is a former NAACP leader in Washington state whose life unraveled after she was outed as a white woman pretending to be black.
Dolezal, who legally changed her name to Nkechi Diallo in 2016, was charged last year with theft by welfare fraud, perjury and false verification for public assistance.
She has said previously that she grew up near Troy, Montana, with religious parents and that she began to change her perspective as a teenager, after her parents adopted four black children.
She decided to become publicly black years later, after a divorce.
The ruse worked for years until 2015, when her parents, with whom she has long feuded, told reporters that their daughter was born white but was presenting herself as a black activist in the Spokane region.
She first revealed her story in 2015, around the same time when the nation was riveted by Rachel Dolezal. Dolezal (seen above in March 2017) is a former NAACP leader in Washington state whose life unraveled after she was outed as a white woman pretending to be black
The story became an international sensation, and she was fired as head of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP and kicked off a police ombudsman commission.
She also lost her job teaching African studies at Eastern Washington University.
Byrd rejects any attempt to liken her story to that of Dolezal.
‘She lied about her race,’ Byrd told USA Today.
‘I didn’t lie because I didn’t know.’