CARY, N.C. — 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.

The Raleigh News & Observer reports ( ) 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.