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Rachel Dolezal Case Leaves a Campus Bewildered and Some Scholars Disgusted

But her civic role was prominent enough to make her the scheduled keynote speaker at the Africana-education program’s graduation ceremony. Questions about Ms. Dolezal’s race hit the news on the day of the ceremony. “She called me that morning and said, ‘Maybe I shouldn’t go, because it’ll be a distraction,’” Mr. Finnie said. “I said, ‘I think you’re right.’”

The ceremony was deluged by television reporters. Before the event, Mr. Finnie was grilled for 15 minutes. Once the program ended, reporters swarmed students and asked questions. “It took away from them celebrating their accomplishments,” Mr. Finnie said. “It was a distraction.”