On Sunday (Nov. 28), the Duke Ellington School of the Arts released a statement about its decision to rename the school’s theater after the “Chappelle’s Show” comedian, even after he announced a fundraising request to challenge those who objected the honor. In an Instagram post, Chappelle said he “will gladly step aside” if more money was raised by people in objection. However, if more people donated in approval, he said that he “will happily attend the naming ceremony.”
“While we appreciate Dave’s impromptu and spirited fundraising initiative, we stand behind our decision to honor the wishes of our co-founder, the late Peggy Cooper Cafritz, to name the theatre after Chappelle,” the school said in a statement. “All donations will go towards arts programming and every donor, irrespective of their support or opposition to the theater naming, will receive an official thank you from our team.”
The Duke Ellington School of the Arts also said that Chappelle cares “deeply” about the school and its students. “He made an unannounced visit before the Thanksgiving break to meet with his Ellington family and to hear directly from the few students who have concerns about his recent comedy special, The Closer. He also wanted to directly express support for their safety in light of some disturbing online comments targeting the Ellington community,” the school added.
As REVOLT previously reported, Chappelle came under a lot of criticism after The Closer aired on Netflix. Many members of the Netflix employee resource group Trans* and their supporters held a walkout in protest of Chappelle’s jokes on the show, which have been labeled as anti-trans. GLAAD and several other groups have called for the comedy special to be drawn from Netflix.
However, the special is still on the streaming platform and Chappelle previously stated that he was not “bending to anyone’s demands,” but was more than willing to meet with people who were offended by his remarks.
The naming ceremony for Chappelle’s alma mater will reportedly take place in April.