CARY, N.C. (AP) — Former Washington state NAACP leader Rachel Dolezal, who was criticized last year for passing herself off as black, has been tapped to speak at a North Carolina Martin Luther King Day celebration in January.
News reports said the theme of the MLK Dreamfest Celebration in Cary, North Carolina, "Healing Race Relations through Conversation and Participation."
Event organizer Al Cohen tells the newspaper that Dolezal was "depicted as a major villain through media because of her preference of racial identity." He says Dolezal committed no crime, adding that "She only had an affinity for a group of people, and she served her community well."
Dolezal has acknowledged that she is "Caucasian biologically," but says she identifies as black.
Dolezal's history with Spokane has been well-documented. In January 2015, she became the president of Spokane's NAACP chapter. In February of that same year and again in May, Dolezal told Spokane Police she had received threatening letters sent to her office and a PO box. Police investigated but were unable to determine who sent the letters.
In June 2015, KREM 2 News' Taylor Viydo spoke with the parents of Dolezal who shared photos of her as a child and said Dolezal was biologically white -- not black. Following the social media firestorm, SPD announced they had suspended all cases involving Dolezal. Scheduled speeches at places such as Eastern Washington University, where she worked on a part-time basis, were canceled. Dolezal resigned from her role as chapter president shortly after.