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Dave Chappelle announced a change of plans for the theater at his high school alma mater and revealed that it would not be named after him after all — instead it would be called the Theater for Artistic Freedom and Expression.
During the ceremony at the Duke Ellington School of Arts held Monday in Washington, D.C., the 48-year-old comedian reflected on the backlash he faced over his transgender comments in his Netflix special “The Closer” and said being told he couldn’t say something “has everything to do with my freedom of artistic expression” — hence the new name for the theater.
In a Twitter thread from Washington Post Columnist Josh Rogin, he shared that “Chappelle rejected the criticism from students of his special ‘The Closer'” and said they were just “repeating someone else’s agenda.”
“These kids didn’t understand that they were instruments of oppression,” the comedian told the audience.
Chappelle also slammed the coverage of his special and said that, “You cannot report on an artist’s work and remove artistic nuance.”
UPDATE: Chappelle is shifting gears … at tonight's naming ceremony, he announced he is not placing his name on the Duke Ellington High School theater. https://t.co/K41JtoxW2V
— TMZ (@TMZ) June 21, 2022
“When you say I can’t say something, the more urgent is it for me to say it,” Chappelle shared, per Rogin. “It has nothing to do with what you are saying I can’t say. It has everything to do with my freedom of artistic expression.”
“I saw in the newspaper that a man who was dressed in women’s clothing threw a pie at the Mona Lisa and tried to deface it,” he added. “And it made me laugh and I thought, it’s like ‘The Closer.'”
Chappelle concluded his remarks by explaining that he “didn’t want any students to see his name on the theater” and not feel good about it.
“The idea that my name will be turned into an instrument of someone else’s perceived oppression is untenable to me,” the comedian shared.
As The Daily Wire previously reported, Dave Chappelle was to be honored by his high school alma mater after supporters reportedly outnumbered critics in a fundraising challenge issued after his transgender jokes drew a backlash against Netflix. The Duke Ellington School of Arts in Washington, D.C. issued a statement on its Facebook page indicating the school’s theater would be named after the comedian.
Chappelle was previously heckled by students at the school, who slammed him for comments he made in his special on the streaming site.
The renaming ceremony comes after the comedian issued a challenge to supporters and critics to donate to his alma mater and said whichever side raised the most money will determine whether or not the theater would be named after him. But, he requested, “If you don’t care enough to donate… please shut the f*** up, forever.”