Organizers for the Baltimore Book Festival announced Tuesday that they disinvited Rachel Dolezal, the controversial white woman who represented herself as the African-American years, this year’s event after receiving major public backlash.
Festival organizers released a statement on her Facebook page, quoting the reaction of participants and authors as the reason for cancellation of Dolezal on the invitation.
“A top priority of the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts is to listen to our voters, and after the hearing of a cross-section of opinions on the have of Rachel Dolezal participate in this festival, we had to consider how her appearance may affect both the public and the other extraordinary authors that we have planned for the Baltimore Book Festival,” the statement read.
“For that reason, we believe it is appropriate to remove Mrs. Dolezal of the festival line-up,” the statement concluded.
RACHEL DOLEZAL, WHITE WOMAN WHO IDENTIFIES AS BLACK, NOW UNEMPLOYED, MAY SOON BE HOMELESS
Dolezal was initially invited for the September festival to read from her autobiography”, In Full Color: Find My Place in a Black-and-White World.” Organizers initially defended the decision to use the controversial figure at the festival, when it was first announced last week.
“The Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts the do not agree or disagree with the many authors who have appeared on the festival stages for more than 20 years, but we do offer a platform for relevant and multi-layered conversations,” they said in a summary posted last Thursday. The Baltimore Book Festival has hosted more than 3,000 authors in the past.
A lot of followers and participants, however, were not happy about the addition.
“Bad decision to Dolezal,” a woman said on Facebook.
“Rachel Dolezal is a big red flag. Not attending an event that she is invited. You pay her so well? I hope not,” another person said.
An online petition circulated soon after the announcement, calling the invite as “racially insensitive,” according to The Baltimore Sun. The petition resulted in more than 100 signatures by Tuesday morning.
“I saw it as a bad publicity stunt that was really painful to a community that has already suffered enough,” petition organizer Kimberly Mooney told the newspaper.
Dolezal grabbed national attention in June 2015 at a local tv crew asked her for the camera and if they are African American. Soon after, photos of Dolezal when she was young with pale skin and blond hair appeared. Dolezal was formerly the leader of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) chapter in Spokane, Wash. She was also accused of the falsification of multiple reports of hate crimes.
Dolezal revealed to The Guardian in February that she has been rejected for 100 jobs, only the received offers to do reality TV and porn movies. Her autobiography was rejected by 30 publishers before someone accepted.