Dave Chappelle’s High School Moving Forward with Plans to Rename Theater in His Honor

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  • Dave Chappelle
    Dave Chappelle
    American comedian

The post Dave Chappelle’s High School Moving Forward with Plans to Rename Theater in His Honor appeared first on Consequence.

Dave Chappelle’s high school is moving forward with plans to rename a theater in his honor despite a contentious meeting between the comedian and some of the school’s students during an event last week.

The Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, DC “stand[s] behind our decision to honor the wishes of our co-founder, the late Peggy Cooper Cafritz, to name the theatre after Chappelle,” reads a statement from the school released on Monday.

Last week, Chappelle made an unannounced visit to his alma matter ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday. During a Q&A with students, the comedian faced questions about his recent Netflix special, The Closer, which included controversial comments about the transgender community.

Politco, which was the first to report news of Chappelle’s visit, recounted one student calling the comedian a “bigot,” and another telling him that his “comedy kills.” In response, Chappelle reportedly used the N-word and proclaimed, “I’m better than every instrumentalist, artist, no matter what art you do in this school, right now, I’m better than all of you. I’m sure that will change. I’m sure you’ll be household names soon.” He also singled out a student who walked out of the event by saying, “Of course she left early.”

Over the weekend, the Washington Post reported more details about the Q&A, as well quoted students who were in attendance. “It was strange to me because he was asking for our opinions, and then when we gave our opinions, he just shut us down,” 15-year-old sophomore Seneca Garren relayed to the Post. “There was a very big power imbalance of him just talking down to us, and just being really rude to us. It just it did not feel like a very welcome environment.”

“One of the kids was explaining to him that [in The Closer] he misgendered someone multiple times, and as she was going to explain the effects of that, he interrupted her and said, ‘What even is misgendering?’ making sort of a joke about it,’ 16-year-old sophomore Andrew Wilson told the Post.

The Washington Post also reports that parents were not told in advance about Chappelle’s visit, which was documented by his own film crew.  For their part, students were required to lock their phones in special pouches prior to the Q&A.

The school’s principal, Sandi Logan introduced Chappelle by telling students that it was their opportunity to have “courageous conversations and not cancellation.”

In Monday’s statement announcing plans to move forward with the theater renaming, the school also said the media’s coverage of Chappelle’s visit “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,” the statement adds. “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.”

In a statement responding to Politco’s initial report, a spokesperson for Chappelle said “these kids deserve an F for forgiveness… [but] give them some space to grow. They are going to say things that immature.”

Chappelle himself photos of the visit to Instagram and told his detractors he’d “step aside” if they donated money in favor of a different honoree. “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.”

“If by April, those against the Chappelle theater exceed the donations of those who are neutral or in favor of the theater named Chappelle, I will gladly step aside. If not, I will happily attend the naming ceremony. And if you don’t care enough to donate… please, shut the f*** up, forever.”

Ultimately, the Duke Ellington School of the Arts decided such a contest was unnecessary, as it will be sticking with Chappelle no matter the outcome.

Dave Chappelle’s High School Moving Forward with Plans to Rename Theater in His Honor
Alex Young

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