Comedian Dave Chappelle’s high school theater will still be named for him, despite the controversy surrounding his Netflix special “The Closer.”
Officials at Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington D.C. have opted to go ahead with the renaming, even after a question and answer session at the school last week reportedly grew chaotic, as students called out Chappelle’s allegedly transphobic remarks in the comedy show.
Earlier this month, a plan to dedicate a theater building to the funnyman was postponed after boycotts and walkouts erupted when “The Closer” debuted on the streaming platform last month.
After the divisive visit to Ellington, Chappelle wrote on Instagram that he was conducting a fundraiser to let donors “vote” for or against the proposed name change.
“My only intent is to ensure Duke Ellington (provides) the opportunity to train its artists unfettered,” Chappelle said in part in the post.
However, school officials will proceed with the renaming, regardless of the results of the fundraiser.
“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 theater after Chappelle,” a statement from the school reads, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
“All donations will go towards arts programming, and every donor, irrespective of their support or opposition to the theater naming, will receive an official thank you from our team.”
The statement continued, “Chappelle cares deeply about Ellington and its students and regards them as family. He made an unannounced visit before the Thanksgiving break to meet with his Ellington family and to hear directly from the few students who have concerns about his recent comedy special, The Closer. He also wanted to directly express support for their safety in light of some disturbing online comments targeting the Ellington community.”
The statement also insisted the “majority of students” at the school support the change.
“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,” the release concluded.