Controversial NAACP Leader Invited to Speak at MLK Fest
Cary, NC, has asked Rachel Dolezal to participate
By Daniel Kay,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 6, 2016 4:32 PM CDT
FILE - In this July 24, 2009, file photo, Rachel Dolezal, a leader of the Human Rights Education Institute, stands in front of a mural she painted at the institute's offices in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. Dolezal, the former NAACP chapter president who made headlines in 2015 when her race came into question,...   (AP Photo/Nicholas K. Geranios, File)
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(Newser) – Cary, North Carolina, is courting controversy with its speaker choice for the annual MLK Dreamfest Celebration in January, reports the New Observer. The city has invited former NAACP leader Rachel Dolezal, who triggered a national conversation about race and identity last year when it was revealed that she had presented herself as black even though she was born to white parents, to participate on a panel. The controversy forced her from her post as president of the Spokane, Wash., chapter of the NAACP. On Twitter, Dolezal said she was looking forward to attending the event.

The announcement of Dolezal's participation has renewed the conversation surrounding her, with several citizens and media outlets calling for Cary to "rethink this," as Paul Blest at IndyWeek put it. Cary City Council is divided, with people speaking out on both sides of the issue. Festival organizers hope the event will give people the "opportunity to see her in a different light," and ignite discussions about the wider role of race and self-identity. The MLK Dreamfest Celebration will run from January 14 to 16 with the theme of "Healing Race Relations through Conversation and Participation."