Writer: Keandra Scott Tatum
A 77-year-old woman by the name of Verda Byrd started to go viral a few years ago after she made a shocking discovery. In 1947, Verda was adopted in Kansas City at the age of 2 by Ray and Edwinna Wagner, a well-to-do African-American couple. Growing up in the small town of Newton, KS, no one really questioned her race which was odd because she grew up during segregation. She attended a black church growing up, participated in all of the cultural traditions, dated and even married black. At 70 years old, Verda found out she was white after becoming suspicious about her birth certificates and various family paperwork she found.
Verda was born as Jeanette Beagle to poor white parents, Daisy Beagle and Earl Beagle. She was the youngest out of 10 children. Earl abandoned the large family of Beagles and unfortunately shortly thereafter Daisy was severely injured after making a 30 feet fall while at work and could no longer take care of herself. Verda’s investigation and unsealed adoption records led to her three surviving biological sisters.
In June 2015, she told People Magazine “I still feel black and that’s not going to change.” In fact, her story was the exact opposite as Rachel Dolezal who lied about her race and even went as far as becoming a former president of NAACP in Spokane, WA. Verda has been featured on Great Day Britain, T.D. Jakes Show, ABC News, and many sources across the globe. There is so much more to Verda’s story and she reveals more in her documentary.
Verda Byrd recently completed a short documentary with Film Producer Christopher Windfield of Down Up Film Productions that shines a serious light on transracial adoption and her peculiar journey. 70 Years of Blackness will premiere twice at the 2020 Oxford Film Festival in March, be sure to visit www.oxfordfilmfestival.org for ticket information. The powerful docu-film has been submitted in various festivals across the globe and will also premiere in Houston, TX soon (TBA; free to the general public).
Be sure to follow 70 Years of Blackness Documentary on Facebook.
Verda Byrd’s autobiography Seventy Years of Blackness is also available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other various retailers online.