Duke Ellington School to stand behind decision to name theater after Dave Chappelle

Dave Chappelle’s alma mater is standing behind its decision regardless of the outcome of the comedian’s fundraising effort to let donors decide whether the Duke Ellington School in D.C. should name its 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,” the school said in a statement.

The Northwest D.C. school said last month that it would postpone a ceremony to rename the theater after Chappelle, who received backlash over remarks in his recent Netflix special, “The Closer,” which many found demeaning to the LGBTQ+ community.

Chappelle posted on Instagram that he would accept the will of those donating to the school.

“If you object to my receiving this honor, I urge you to donate to the school, noting your objection. If you are in favor of the theater being named ‘Chappelle,’ I urge you to donate to the school, noting your approval,” he wrote.

Before Thanksgiving, Chappelle visited the school to meet and hear from the students who had concerns over the comedy special. The school said Chappelle wanted to express his support of Ellington students’ safety after disturbing comments targeting the school community.

Although the majority of the students are in favor of naming the theater after Chappelle, the school said, “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.”

All donations from Chappelle’s fundraiser will go toward arts programming and every donor, irrespective of their support or opposition to the theater naming, will receive an official thank you, the school said.

Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

Like WTOP on Facebook and follow WTOP on Twitter and Instagram to engage in conversation about this article and others.

Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2021 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up