In a surprising move, comedian Dave Chappelle announced that a student theater at the Duke Ellington School of Art in Northwest Washington will not be named after him.
Chappelle, one of the school’s most famous alumni, was in town on Monday night for a dedication party for the site.
Instead, it will be called the “Theater of Freedom and Artistic Expression”.
The dedication was initially delayed last November after critics slammed the Netflix stand-up comedy show, “The Closer He hates transgender people and Ellington students have also raised concerns.
Chappelle told the audience on Monday that while he felt the reaction against him was subtle and unrelated to his work, he didn’t want to name a theater after him to distract students from focusing on the meaning of his art.
He also noted that “honest” criticism hurt him.
Chappelle said he decided on Friday not to mention his name at school. “But the Ellington family is my family,” he said.
At the time of the controversy last year, Duke Ellington’s dean, Sandy Logan, said she had held formal and informal meetings with students to discuss Chappelle’s comments, including a month of weekly meetings with a student leaders advisory committee that included representatives of the school’s gender. and sex. Sex Alliance.
“Proceeding with this event … without first addressing the questions and concerns of members of the Ellington community would be a missed opportunity for an educational moment,” the school wrote in a statement.
Founded in 1974 with the goal of providing a free, first-class art education to children in the nation’s capital, Duke Ellington attracts students from all over the city and is one of the few art schools in the area that educates the majority of black students.
Chappelle, who pledged to donate $100,000 to the school’s theater, last October said the stage name named after him was “the most important honor of my life.”
“I was skipping class. I hid there when I skipped class. Who would have thought this theater would be called my name?” Chappelle said in a speech to donors to raise money for Ellington before showing “The Closer” at the Angelica Pop Up Theater in Union Market. “But I understand why sometimes when you love things, they love you back. And I loved that school.”