Despite its student body’s recent attempt to cancel school alumni Dave Chappelle over his recent special, The Duke Ellington School of the Arts has announced that they will be moving forward with plans to rename its campus theater after the comedian.
As reported by Politico, the comedian came under fire last week after attending a Q&A session hosted by his high school alma mater during which he was called out by students and parents who were offended by Chappelle’s Netflix special The Closer.
According to the news outlet, some 580 students attended the Q&A and called Chappelle a “bigot”, only for those who expected the comedian to apologise to be further put off by the comedian’s rejection of their woke criticism.
One student said, as confirmed by Chappelle’s spokesperson Carla Sims, “I’m 16 and I think you’re childish, you handled it like a child,” and flat out called the comedian a “bigot,” to which Chappelle responded with, “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.”
“Your comedy kills,” said another woke student. “N—— are killed every day,” the comedian replied before laughingly asking, “The media’s not here, right?”
One disgruntled parent said, “As a parent, I have to say I have a real problem. … He was being dead serious and using the n-word on the record. What kind of judgment is the school showing to allow that?”
Asked for comment by the media, Sims argued, “They are complaining that he talked and said the n-word. If anything, Dave is putting the school on the map.”
On the 13th of November, the school announced that they would be postponing the theatre’s naming ceremony in response to outrage towards the idea from transgender activists and woke students.
“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,” read a statement issued by the school at the time.
In the wake of the backlash, Chappelle announced that he would be sponsoring a fundraising challenge to help The Duke Ellington School of the Arts decide whether the theatre should be named after him or not.
“The Duke Ellington School is a glorious institution. Within those walls I found a context to explore my creativity seriously,” said Chappelle in a post shared on Instagram. “Duke Ellington, in large part, prepared me to undertake this noble and difficult profession. It was a fine institution before any of it’s current occupants got there.”
He continued, “God willing, it will be a fine institution long after their tenure is done. My only intent is to insure Duke Ellington the opportunity to trail it’s artists, unfettered.”
“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.” Chappelle explained “In April, I intend to honor that request. If you object to my receiving this honor, I urge you to donate to the school, noting your objection. If you are in favor of the theater being named ‘Chappelle,’ I urge you to donate to the school, noting your approval.”
The comedian also reassured the school’s students that “Whichever opinion donates the highest collective dollar amount, wins. If by April, those against the ‘Chappelle’ theater exceed the donations of those who are neutral or in favor of the theater being named ‘Chappelle,’ I will gladly step aside.”
“If not, I will happily attend the naming ceremony,” Chappelle gracefully concluded his statement. “And if you don’t care enough to donate… please, shut the f—k up, forever.”
However, on November 28th, the school issued a statement in response to the outraged protestors, explaining “Chappelle cares deeply about Ellington and its students and regards them as family. 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.”
“While there has been extensive media coverage about the theatre naming and Chappelle’s most recent visit to the school,” the statement continued, “the source stories that have gone viral have been inaccurate, devoid of context, and neglected to include the nuances of art.”
As for Chappelle’s fundraising challenge, The Duke Ellington School of the Arts further asserted that, regardless of the fundraiser’s result, the school would not be bending the knee to those who opposed the theatre’s renaming after the comedian.
“Recently, Dave Chappelle, via his Instagram page, challenged those who both support and oppose the decision to name the theatre at Duke Ellington School of the Arts after him through a fundraising contest,” the school acknowledged. “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.”
Concluding their statement, the school ultimately promised that “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.”
What do you make of The Duke Ellington School of the Arts refusal to bend the knee to its woke students’ attempt to cancel Dave Chappelle? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section down below or on social media!