Dave Chappelle will be honored by his high school alma mater after supporters reportedly outnumber 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 Sunday on its Facebook page indicating the school’s theater will be named after the 48-year-old comedian.
“You are invited to join us tomorrow at 7:30 PM for our theatre dedication and unveiling event celebrating one of DESA’s most noted alumni — comedian and actor Dave Chappelle,” the statement read about the event planned for Monday, June 20. “The event will include an unveiling, theater dedication, performances, and a conversation with Chappelle.”
Chappelle was previously heckled by students at the school who slammed him for comments he made in his Netflix comedy special, “The Closer.”
Dave Chappelle's old high school is set to honor him with a renaming ceremony, even though he was heckled there months ago for his transgender comments. https://t.co/AIwKye7jvf
— TMZ (@TMZ) June 20, 2022
“Ellington’s co-founder Peggy Cooper Cafritz was a fierce believer in the transformative power of the arts and it was her hope that Chappelle would use his platform to bring more resources and attention to the school,” the school added. “This event also kicks off Ellington’s Million Dollar Challenge—a campaign designed to close the funding gap so Ellington can keep art at the heart of our dual curriculum.”
The renaming ceremony comes after the comedian issued a challenge to supporters and critics to donate to his alma mater and said whichever side raises 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.”
“Talk is cheap (Unless I do it),” Chappelle captioned on Instagram in November. “The Duke Ellington school is a glorious institution. Within those walls I found a context to explore my creativity seriously. Duke Ellington, in large part, prepared me to undertake this noble and difficult profession. It was a fine institution before any of [its] current occupants got there.”
“God willing, it will be a fine institution long after their tenure is done,” he added. “My only intent is to insure [sic] Duke Ellington the opportunity to train [its] artists, unfettered.” Chappelle also 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 [Cafritz], I accepted.”
The comedian closed out his post by saying he would “gladly step aside” if the donations from those “against the ‘Chappelle’ theater exceed the donations of those who are neutral or in favor of the theater being named ‘Chappelle.’” Otherwise, he would be attending the ceremony.