The following letter was sent to Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht; the Cary Town Council; Lyman Collins, the town’s cultural arts manager; and Al Cohen, CEO of Al Cohen, CEO of Jireh Management Group. Jireh Management is planning one part of the Cary’s MLK Dreamfest celebration. It was reprinted with permission.
Former NAACP leader will bring ‘sensationalized presence’
Regarding the Oct. 12 story, “Cary’s MLK celebration to include former NAACP leader Dolezal”: We give thanks that what started many years ago as conversations and meetings in the classrooms and basements of Cary First Christian and Good Shepherd United Church of Christ has blossomed into a city-wide celebration of the legacy and values of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., known as Dreamfest. As Cary clergy, we meet together regularly and recently have intensified our focus on addressing racism and exploring the racial dynamics at work in our own community.
We write out of concern for the invitation to Rachel Dolezal to be a part of the Dreamfest weekend. We fail to see how her sensationalized presence and story can contribute to the theme of “racial healing through conversation and participation” considering the overwhelmingly negative response of the African-American community to her behavior. While Dolezal may have an interesting story to some, her participation does not honor the stories, voices and experiences of the people for whom the Rev. King gave his life.
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It is also of concern to us that the Saturday activities are now being planned by a management group based in New York. Surely there are local voices who can both plan and be featured at Dreamfest – voices that could help Cary understand its own racialized past and cast a vision for a just future.
As we oppose Ms. Dolezal’s participation, we also pledge to be active in the weekend and in the continued struggle against racism in our community.
Rev. Mycal X. Brickhouse, pastor, Cary First Christian; Rev. Lauren Efird, senior pastor, Greenwood Forest Baptist Church; Rev. Chris Furr, senior minister, Covenant Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); Rev. Carla Gregg-Kearns, senior pastor, Good Shepherd United Church of Christ; Rev. Lori Pistor, Presbyterian Church (USA); Rev. Stephen Stacks, associate pastor, Greenwood Forest Baptist Church; Rev. Stephanie Arnold Workman, associate pastor, Kirk of Kildaire Presbyterian (USA); Rev. Donna Banks, lead pastor, Saint Francis United Methodist Church