The Duke Ellington School announced that it will follow through an initial plan to name its theater after Dave Chappelle, an alumnus of the school, following a delay over his latest Netflix special.
In mid-November, the school said it was postponing the honoring event until April 22, 2022, while it was originally scheduled for November 23, because the Chappelle’s show included “controversial material juxtaposing discrimination against Black Americans with that against non-Black members of the LGBTQ+ community.”
The administration added that it was holding conversations with their students to listen to their concerns on the issue.
In response to the school’s statement, the comedian started a fundraising campaign on Instagram for his alma mater, suggesting that people donate to the Duke Ellington School with a note about whether they are for or against the idea of naming the theater after him.
“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,” said Duke Ellington in a release on Sunday, November 28, also mentioning Chappelle’s unannounced visit ahead of the Thanksgiving break to meet Ellington students and directly hear their concerns about his recent comedy special, The Closer.
“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. Our purpose is not to form a uniformity of viewpoints, but to help instill genuine, respectful curiosity in perspectives that challenge one’s own,” the statement said.