Dave Chappelle refuses to name the theater at Duke Ellington School after him

Dave Chappelle refuses to name the theater at Duke Ellington School after him

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With a surprising move, comedian Dave Chapelle announced that the student theater at the Duke Ellington School of Art in northwestern Washington will not bear his name.

Chappelle, one of the school’s most famous students, was in town on Monday night for a dedication ceremony.

Instead, it will be called the Theater for Artistic Freedom and Expression.

The dedication was originally postponed last November after critics called the comedian’s high-profile Netflix special, “The Closer,” transphobic. Ellington students also expressed concern.

Chappelle told the audience on Monday that although he thought the reaction to him lacked nuance and was not relevant to his work, he did not want the theater bearing his name to distract attention from students who focus on the meaning of their art.

He also noted that he was “honestly” hurt by the criticism.

Chappelle said he decided on Friday not to have his name in school. “But the Ellington family is my family,” he said.

At the time of the controversy last year, Duke Ellington Principal Sandy Logan said she had formal and informal meetings with students to discuss Chappelle’s comments, including a month-long meeting with the Student Leaders’ Advisory Committee, which included schoolchildren and the Security Alliance.

The Duke Ellington School is postponing the naming of the theater after Dave Chapelle until April

“Progress with the event” without first resolving the issues and concerns of members of the Ellington community would be a missed opportunity for an instructive moment, “the school said in a statement.

Founded in 1974 with the mission of providing free, first-class art education to children in the country’s capital, Duke Ellington attracts students from across the city and is one of the few art schools to educate mostly blacks.

Chappelle, who promised to donate $ 100,000 to the school theater, said last October that naming the theater after him was “the most important part of my life”.

“I used to skip school. I would hide there if I skipped class. Who would have thought that theater would one day be named after me? ”Chappelle told donors to raise money for Ellington before the screening of“ The Closer ”at the Angelica Pop-Up Theater at Union Market. “But I understand that because sometimes when you love things, they reciprocate your love. And I loved that school. “

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