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Posted under: News Race & Identity

Woman Discovers She's White After 70 Years Of Thinking She's A Light Skinned Black Woman

Verda Byrd was adopted by a black family, and believed she was black for almost her whole life.

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Verda Byrd was adopted by a black family, and grew up thinking she was a light-skinned black woman until 2014, when she found out her biological parents were both white, WLTX 19 reports.

Byrd who published a book, "Seventy Years of Blackness," in December 2017 says she never questioned her race until she began researching her biological family in 2013. 

"I didn't know what I was," she said. "It was never told to me that I was white."

Byrd is the biological daughter of Daisy and Earl Beagle, a poor white couple with four other children at the time of her birth.

Her father abandoned the family in 1943 and her mother sustained a traumatic injury after falling from a trolley when Byrd was five months old. The children were later taken by the state. Daisy regained custody of all of Byrd’s siblings, except for Byrd, who was adopted by Ray and Edwinna Wagner, a black couple, and renamed Verda Ann. She was raised as an only child.

Byrd’s biological parents were dead by time she made the discovery, but she doesn’t feel like she missed out.

“No, I don't regret,” she said. “Because the way I understand it now is they probably wouldn't have been able to provide the good life that I've had.”

She eventually visited Daisy’s grave and had a reunion with three of her biological sisters, Sybil Panko, Debbie Romero and Kathyrn Gutierrez, but the happy reunion was short-lived when Panko used the n-word.

Panko died in 2016 and Byrd was barred from the funeral; Panko made the request in writing. Byrd's remaining blood sister stopped speaking to her after the death, and left her dismayed by the rejection.

"What did I do? I found you," she said of the incident. "You are my sisters."

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