by Fox News
Days after defending its decision to have Dolezal, the white woman who led others to believe she was black, take part in the Baltimore Book Festival, organizers say the former head of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP has been disinvited, Tuesday, May 30, 2017. (Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
Organizers for the Baltimore Book Festival announced Tuesday they disinvited Rachel Dolezal, the controversial white woman who represented herself as African American for years, to this year’s event after receiving major public backlash.
Festival organizers released a statement on its Facebook page, citing reaction from attendees and authors as the reason for rescinding Dolezal’s invitation.
“A top priority of the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts is to listen to our constituents, and after hearing from a cross-section of opinions on having Rachel Dolezal participate in this year’s festival, we had to consider how her appearance may affect both the audience and the other extraordinary authors we have planned for the Baltimore Book Festival,” the statement read.
Baltimore Book Festival 20 hours ago
For 21 years, the Baltimore Book Festival has hosted more than 3,000 writers and has been a venue for the exchange of ideas and information. In the past, we have hosted writers with different views and perspectives, always with the goal of presenting authors that engage the audience with topical and enlightening discourse. A top priority of the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts is to listen to our constituents, and after hearing from a cross-section of opinions on having Rachel Dolezal participate in this year’s festival, we had to consider how her appearance may affect both the audience and the other extraordinary authors we have planned for the Baltimore Book Festival. For that reason, we believe it is appropriate to remove Ms. Dolezal from the festival lineup.
“For that reason, we believe it is appropriate to remove Ms. Dolezal from the festival lineup,” the statement concluded.
Dolezal was initially invited to the September festival to read her autobiography, “In Full Color: Finding My Place in a Black and White World.” Organizers initially defended their decision to have the controversial figure at the festival when it was first announced last week.
“The Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts does not agree or disagree with the many authors that have appeared on the festival’s stages for more than 20 years, but we do provide a platform for relevant and multi-layered conversations,” they said in a statement posted last Thursday. The Baltimore Book Festival has hosted more than 3,000 writers in the past.
Baltimore Book Festival last Thursday
In response to feedback about our decision to have Rachel Dolezal at this year’s festival, the Baltimore Book Festival provides an open forum for dialogue and topical discussion of various issues. The Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts does not agree or disagree with the many authors that have appeared on the festival’s stages for more than 20 years, but we do provide a platform for relevant and multi-layered conversations. In seeking participating authors, BOPA looks for new and existing works of interest which may offer more insight into the lives, thoughts, businesses, and opinions of people and characters; and expand our understanding of people, places and thinking that may be different than our own. We invite everyone to attend the festival to hear all of the varied voices of the participating authors.
Many followers and attendees, however, were not pleased about the addition.
“Bad decision to include Dolezal,” one woman said on Facebook.
“Rachel Dolezal is a big red flag. Not attending any event that she’s been invited to. Are you paying her as well? I certainly 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 garnered more than 100 signatures by Tuesday morning.
“I saw it as a bad publicity stunt that was really hurtful to a community that has already suffered enough,” petition organizer Kimberly Mooney told the newspaper.
Dolezal grabbed national attention in June 2015 when a local television crew asked her on camera if she was African American. Soon after, photos of Dolezal when she was young with pale skin and blonde hair surfaced. 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 falsifying multiple reports of hate crimes.
Dolezal revealed to The Guardian in February that she has been rejected for 100 jobs, only receiving offers to do reality TV and pornography films. Her autobiography was turned down by 30 publishers before someone accepted it.