Verda Byrd was raised by Ray Wagner and Edwinna Wagner, a black couple unable to have children of their own. They treated her like their own daughter and assumed she was just a girl of African-American descent with a light skin tone.
However, upon discovering her adoption papers, Byrd discovered that she was born Jeanette Beagle and her parents, Daisy Beagle and Earl Beagle, were actually both white. They had children very young and when one of them got into an accident that made raising children difficult, Byrd, who was their youngest child, was put up for adoption and never knew her biological parents.
Byrd does not believe that her case is similar to that of Rachel Dolezal, because unlike Dolezal, she didn’t know which race her parents were and when she told people she was black, she wasn’t consciously lying to other people about which race she was. Dolezal on the other hand, knew her birth parents and still told people that she was a different race than them.
Byrd, on the other hand, was raised by a black family, was raised a segregated town and studied African American history, from slavery through the civil right’s movement. She also went to churches that were majority African American and married a black man.
Byrd had her background researched a long time after the fact and only discovered extremely recently that she was born white. She admits wholeheartedly to being a Caucasian by birth, but remains adamant that she truly lived the black experience in America.