The white George Washington University professor who drew international attention Thursday when she admitted that she had assumed the identity of a Black woman for years grew up in Johnson County and attended one of the Kansas City area’s most prestigious private schools.
Jessica Krug, who is still listed as an associate professor teaching courses in African history and the African Diaspora at the college in Washington, D.C., acknowledged in a post on the website Medium that she had taken on racial identities that had morphed over time.
“To an escalating degree over my adult life,” she wrote in the post, “I have eschewed my lived experience as a white Jewish child in suburban Kansas City under various assumed identities within a Blackness that I had no right to claim: first North African Blackness, then US rooted Blackness, then Caribbean rooted Bronx Blackness.”
Pages from The Barstow School’s yearbook available on Ancestry.com show Jessica Krug as a sophomore in 1998, and list her as a member of a number of clubs. The 1999 yearbook, for example, shows her as a member of the StuPac club, a group “devoted to political discussions.” Among her fellow club members that year was current Kansas City, Mo., mayor Quinton Lucas.
Lucas re-tweeted a picture of that 1999 StuPac club Friday morning, calling it “one of the stranger person-in-your-yearbook-photo-did-this stories I’ve stumbled upon.”
One of the stranger person-in-your-yearbook-photo-did-this stories I’ve stumbled upon. Yes, Jessica graduated a few years ahead of me. She was interesting back then, but it is really surprising she’s tried to pass as Black for 20 years. Her apology in reflection is warranted. https://t.co/XAzZCCpSsR
— Mayor Q (@QuintonLucasKC) September 4, 2020
“I remember her as a student who was very engaged politically,” Lucas told the Post in a phone interview Friday. “She was someone who seemed to care about diversity and equity issues back then. I’m disappointed that she’s gone on to misrepresent herself in the years since.”
Lucas said he is “amazed” Krug was able to pass as Black.
“You can respect Black culture and work towards equality while not pretending to be Black. She could have been more authentic to herself while not misappropriating and still could have been an effective advocate for diversity,” he said.
In high school, Lucas said he remembers Krug would often take stands that, at the time, required some “courage” on her part. He noted, in particular, a time she stood up at an all-school assembly and invited her classmates to an “all-gay prom” that was being planned as an alternative to the traditional school dances.
“You know, I was impressed,” Lucas told the Post. “In the mid- to late ’90s, that wasn’t a popular thing to do. It took some courage to get up and do that.”
The education section on Krug’s profile page for the George Washington University Department of History lists only her Ph.D from the University of Wisconsin, earned in 2012. However, archived pages listing honor roll students at the University of Kansas in the early 2000s show a Jessica Anne Krug with a home address in the Regency Park neighborhood near 103rd Street and Antioch Road in Overland Park.
The honor roll listing also says Krug’s high school was Barstow.
In her Medium post, Krug acknowledges that she has “been battling some unaddressed mental health demons for my entire life, as both an adult and child.”
“The abuse within and alienation from my birth family and society are no one’s burden but my own, and mine alone to address,” she wrote.”Black people and Black communities have no obligation to harbor the refuse of non-Black societies. I have done this. I know it is wrong and I have done this anyway.”
This story has been updated to include comments from Kansas City, Mo., Mayor Quinton Lucas.