Dave Chappelle SNUBS Duke Ellington School theater naming following transphobia backlash

Duke Ellington wanted to honor their alumni for all the right reasons as it was reported that Chappelle had donated over $100,000


                            Dave Chappelle SNUBS Duke Ellington School theater naming following transphobia backlash
Dave Chappelle won't name his alma mater theater after himself, angry over comments made by students in November. (Photo by Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images)
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Dave Chappelle does not want the student theater at Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington DC, his former high school, to be named after him. The comedian made his opinion public on Monday following student backlash to his controversial Netflix comedy special, 'The Closer'.

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The naming event, which was supposed to take place in November last year, was postponed after students at the school criticized 'The Closer', which featured a number of jokes that have been widely criticized as transphobic.

Explaining that he was hurt by the backlash, the 48-year-old stand-up said he believed criticisms against him weren’t productive. He also stated that he didn’t want his name to be on the theater if that would distract students. Instead, he said, the space will be called the 'Theater for Artistic Freedom and Expression.'

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Dave Chappelle's November contest

Duke Ellington wanted to honor their alumni for all the right reasons as it was reported that Chappelle had donated over $100,000 and even his Emmy in 2017. So, when the renaming was announced, many of the students were against it and wanted to reverse the decision. Noticing this, the comedian started a contest where he pushed his supporters and the opposers to raise money. If those against the decision raised more money, he would leave the opportunity and step aside. 

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Dave Chappelle attends the Opening Night Party presented by NETFLIX IS A JOKE at W Hollywood on April 28, 2022 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Netflix)

He took to his Instagram with a series of pictures 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 Kafritz, I accepted." He continued, "If you object to my receiving this honor, I urge you to donate to the school noting your objection,' he posted. 'If you are in favor of the theater being named 'Chappelle,' I urge you to donate to the school, noting your approval." His supporters raised more money. But the backlash he received was more like disrespect and he decided to step back from this monumental opportunity. 

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According to USA Today, he recalled the event where the students hurt him. He said, "I took a lot of cold shots in business… but that day, they hurt me." During his last visit to the school in November, one student approached Chappelle and said, "I'm 16 and I think you're childish," and called him a bigot, to which Chappelle replied, "My friend, with all due respect, I don't believe you could make one of the decisions I have to make on a given day."

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