Rachel Doležal
Rachel Dolezal, former president of a local chapter of a civil rights group in Spokane, Washington, with the man described as her 'father', stepped down Facebook

The woman at the centre of a controversy about her misrepresentation of herself as black while leading a civil rights group has resigned.

"It is a true honour to serve in the racial and social justice movement here in Spokane and across the nation," wrote Rachel Dolezal, former president of the Spokane branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People on the group's Facebook page.

"Blacks across America are facing police brutality and across the board inequality when it comes to education, health, voting rights and financial security," she wrote, "and yet, the dialogue has unexpectedly shifted internationally to my personal identity in the context of defining race and ethnicity."

Rachel Dolezal, black, white, woman
Dolezal's mother told reporters the family background is Czech, Swedish and German Family handout

Dolezal's story made international headlines when her parents spoke to KREM 2, a local CBS-affiliated TV station in the city with a population of 210,000, to reveal she has been pretending to be black since 2004 after divorcing her black husband. They said she is part Czech, Swedish, German and indigenous American.

When confronted with the news by another TV station, Dolezal said she "doesn't understand the question".

The crux of the controversy lay in the fact that Dolezal has claimed to have been the victim of hate speech and accepted paid speaking gigs where she represented herself as a black woman and shared her experience growing up black.

"It is with complete allegiance to the cause of racial and social justice and the NAACP that I step aside from the presidency," she wrote.

"This is not about me. It's about justice. This is not me quitting," Dolezal continued, indicating she was stepping aside to move the cause of human rights and the "Black Liberation Movement along the continuum from Resistance to Chattel Slavery to Abolition to Defiance of Jim Crow to the building of Black Wall Street to the Civil Rights and Black Power Movement to the ‪#‎BlackLivesMatter movement and into a future of self-determination and empowerment".