75-Year-Old Woman Who Thought She Was 'Light Skinned' Discovers She's White

75-Year-Old Woman Who Thought She Was 'Light Skinned' Discovers She's White

Verda Byrd shares her discovery in autobiography, "Seventy Years of Blackness."

Published March 26, 2019

Adopted as a child over 70 years ago, the now 75-year old, Verda Byrd thought she was a light-skinned Black person. However, when Verda did some research about her biological parents, she discovered that she was born to white parents. Everything she knew about herself was suddenly called into question.

Adopted by an African-American couple, raised as their only child, questions of Byrd’s ethnicity were never raised, until 2013 when she began looking into the identity of her birth parents. In 2014, Byrd finally learned that she is white, KEN 5 reported.

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

According to court documents, Verda was born to Daisy and Earl Beagle, in Kansas City, Missouri, in the 1940s. A poor white couple with five children, The Beagles originally named her, Jeanette. Byrd says her birth father, Earl, deserted the family in 1943 when she was only five-months-old. As a result, Daisy, her biological mother, went looking for work, but was injured in a serious trolley accident before she found a stable job.

While Daisy was in recovery, she signed over her children to Missouri State officials. Later, when Daisy recovered from her injuries, she was able to retrieve all of them, except for Jeanette.

When Ray and Edwinna Wagner adopted Jeannette, they changed her name to Verda Ann Wagner.

Verda’s biological parents, Earl and Daisy were both deceased by the time her family research was completed in 2014.

Although Verda searched for Earl and Daisy, she never refers to them as mother and father.

"I don't call anybody Mama and Daddy if I don't know them. If they didn't raise me," she told the local news station.

"Christmas 2014, I went to Daisy Beagle's grave in Dallas," She told KEN 5. "And all I said to her is, `Daisy I'm home. I've been gone all these years. And, I'm here to wish you a Merry Christmas.’

Not only did Byrd visit Daisy’s grave that year, she reunited with her biological sisters: Sybil Panko, Debbie Romero and Kathyrn Gutierrez.

She’d said, "We are Daisy's girls," reported KEN 5.

The same year the sisters reunited, they also stopped speaking.

The reunion was cut short when her sister, Sybil Panko allegedly used the “N-word.” Panko died in September 2016 and barred Byrd from attending her funeral in Florida.

"What did I do?? I found you," she told KEN 5. "You are my sisters."

Byrd shares the story of her complicated life in the book, "Seventy Years of Blackness," which she published in December 2017.

Written by BET Staff

(Photo: KEN 5-TV)


Latest in news