Organizers for the Baltimore Book Festival have rescinded their invitation for self-described transracial author Rachel Dolezal to appear at the yearly event.
The Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts announced its decision Tuesday, May 30, in a Facebook post just days after defending its decision to invite the former NAACP-Spokane president.
“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’ve planned for the Baltimore Book Festival,” communications director Tracy Baskerville wrote. “For that reason, we believe it is appropriate to remove Ms. Dolezal from the festival lineup.”
Dolezal, who now goes by Nkechi Amare Diallo, became a pariah after it was revealed she was a white woman posing as a Black woman. She recently published a memoir titled, “In Full Color: Finding My Place In a Black and White World.” Dolezal identifies as Black.
Festival goers unhappy about Dolezal’s addition to the lineup rejoiced at organizers’ decision to dump her.
There were those who disagreed with the decision, however, arguing that “Nkechi” shouldn’t have been uninvited just because some might disagree with what she had to say.
Organizers of the book festival, which has been held for the past 20 years, initially stood by their decision to invite Dolezal. In a Facebook post Thursday, May 25, organizers said that “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.”
The festival, which has hosted more than 3,000 writers in the past, will take place Sept. 22-24.