Late last year it was announced that Dave Chappelle‘s former high school the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington was honoring him by naming a theater after him. At the time of the news, Dave faced some criticism from some of the students at the school due to his Netflix comedy special “The Closer.” Monday night Dave was in town for the dedication ceremony for the theater when he announced that the building will no longer be named after him.
According to the Washington Post, Dave announced during the dedication ceremony that the theater will now be called the Theater for Artistic Freedom and Expression instead. While speaking to the audience, Dave addressed the backlash he received due to the comedy special and reportedly said that it “sincerely” hurt him. Nonetheless, he feels the backlash was not about his work, and he didn’t want the name of the theater to deflect the students from focusing on their art.
As previously reported, last November, Dave was scheduled to appear at a fundraiser that was created to raise money for the building. However, his appearance was postponed after students at the school threatened to walk out in protest. The postponement occurred as Dave faced backlash from the LGBTQ+ community due to the jokes that were told in the comedy special.
At the time, the school addressed Dave’s postponed appearance and said,
“We recognize that not everyone will accept or welcome a particular artist’s point of view, product, or craft, but reject the notion that a ‘cancel culture is a healthy or constructive means to teach our students how society should balance creative freedom with protecting the right and dignity of all of its members.”
Following the backlash from the students last November, Dave posted to his Instagram and said,
“Having the theater named after me is a great honor. Although that was not my idea, aim, or desire. At the request of our beloved school’s founder, Peggy Cooper Cafritz I accepted.”
He continued, “If you object to my receiving this honor, I urge you to donate to the school, noting your objection.”
Check out his full response below:
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