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Dave Chappelle’s High School Is Standing By Their Decision To Name A Theater After Him (No Matter What)

Dave Chappelle’s reportedly contentious visit to his high school last week has received clarification in a statement from Duke Ellington, and it’s a pretty lengthy statement that also follows up on Chappelle’s donation-poll, so we’ll get there momentarily.

To briefly recap, Chappelle’s The Closer controversy still continues unresolved as he cracks trans jokes onstage while touring for his documentary film, after backlash over his trans jokes in Netflix’s The Closer. His high school alma mater, Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Georgetown, has been stuck in the middle of this mess while responding to student concerns and beefing up security over student-focused threats, which Chappelle reportedly addressed during his surprise visit to the school shortly before Thanksgiving.

A Politico report detailed exchanges during that Q&A session, in which Chappelle reportedly responded to boos and being called a “bigot” by declaring, “I’m better than all of you.” The report also quoted multiple students who were unhappy with Chappelle responding to concerns with more jokes, and Politico also alleged that Chappelle called attention to a female student who walked out of the auditorium. Well, Duke Ellington’s statement on the matter reveals that the school will proceed with renaming the theater after Chappelle (despite postponing a fundraiser), no matter the outcome of Dave’s poll that asks people to donate for-or-against the renaming.

Via Hollywood Reporter, the school expresses gratitude for how Dave is raising funds for the theater and reveals that, no matter the outcome of his poll, the decision for the renaming is set in stone:

“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. 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.”

In addition to sticking with the decision of its late co-founder on the theater-renaming issue, the school pushed back at what they’re calling “inaccurate” stories that “neglected to include the nuances of art” while reporting on Dave’s visit to Duke Ellington. The school’s also stressing that a large number of students remain in favor of the theater being named after the comedian:

“While there has been extensive media coverage about the theatre naming and Chappelle’s most recent visit to the school, the source stories that have gone viral have been inaccurate, devoid of context, and neglected to include the nuances of art. As an art institution, we educate our students on the importance of media literacy and art as a free and open form of expression to both reflect and challenge society. Although it appears that the clear majority of students at Ellington favor naming the theater for Dave Chappelle, we are seizing this moment to demonstrate the importance of carefully listening to every voice within our diverse and inclusive community.”

You can read the rest of the Duke Ellington statement here.

(Via Hollywood Reporter)

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