Verda Byrd grew up in Newton, Kansas just like many other Black girls around the country. The daughter of Edwinna and Ray Wagner, a railroad porter, she lived a comfortable life with loving parents.
Eventually, Verda learned that Ray and Edwinna weren’t her biological parents. She was adopted in the 1940s. Still, she never doubted her status as a Black woman.
“I grew up not questioning birth or anything else because it was never told to me that I was born white.”
It wasn’t until her 70th year that Byrd discovered, through her own research, that her biological parents were White.
Byrd learned that her birth name name was Jeanette Beagle and her parents, Earl and Daisy Beagle were transients, White transients.
Byrd became a ward of the state after a series of unfortunate events. First, her father Earl walked out on his wife and their ten children. Later, Byrd’s biological mother, Daisy, fell nearly 30 feet in a trolley accident.
When Byrd learned of her White parentage she was naturally shocked.
“it’s unbelievable… My adoptive mother, Edwinna Wagner, never told me that she had adopted a White baby. She took it to her grave that she had a White daughter.”
Still, Byrd says that she’s not looking to change or redefine her identity any time soon.
“I’m comfortable with being a Black woman.”
She doesn’t even want anything to do with her birth name, Jeanette Beagle.
“I wouldn’t go back to my birth name if I had to. Jeanette Beagle does not fit Verda Byrd. Jeanette Beagle does not have an education. Jeanette Beagle has no social security money because she never worked. She never even went to kindergarten.”
Naturally, on the heels of the Rachel Dolezal story, people are naturally drawing parallels between the two women. And while Byrd acknowledges that the two women both chose to be Black, she still has little respect for the former NAACP leader.
When asked why she was so upset with Dolezal, Byrd responded:
“Cause she lied about her race, Byrd said emphatically, “I didn’t lie because I didn’t know!”
Ultimately Byrd believes that she and Dolezal chose to be Black for drastically different reasons.
Byrd, who was raised as an only chid, has been in contact with her other siblings and they’ve said they simply don’t discuss the issue of race.
So, now that you all have the story, can I get a show of hands from the people who think Miss Verda might need to do a little bit more research? To look at her, there is absolutely no doubt in my full and sane mind that this nice lady is Black, not only socially, but genetically too. I have relatives, friends, and friends’ relatives who look just like her. And they know, without a shadow of a doubt that they’re Black. And while her skin may be fair and her eyes light, other features seem to be saying something else. That nose is just too African too deny.
What I’m about to propose is all speculation, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Byrd’s biological parents moved around so much because they were passing and afraid that eventually their ancestry would be discovered. And that just might be the reason her siblings, who are likely also Black, don’t discuss race. Then again, White people, in their privilege generally don’t have to. Either way, I would love for her to take a DNA test, so we could get down to the real truth.
You can watch Verda Byrd’s full interview in the video below.
Head to the comments and let us know what you think about Ms Verda.