The author formerly known as Rachel Dolezal, who now goes by the name Nkechi Amare Diallo, had her invitation to speak at a Baltimore book festival rescinded after the organizers received backlash.
The Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts said that a slew of complaints came in after it was announced that the In Full Color: Finding My Place in a Black and White World author would be a speaker. The festival organizers issued a statement on their Facebook page, stating why they had had a change of heart.
“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. “For that reason, we believe it is appropriate to remove Ms. Dolezal from the festival lineup.”
Organizers of the book festival, which has been held for the last 20 years, originally said that Dolezal’s presence would open and expand conversation and that the organizers don’t always agree with the authors they invite.
However, one person upset enough about Dolezal being a speaker even created an online petition, according to the Baltimore Sun.
“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, a white woman, has been infamously masquerading as a black woman for the last 20 years.