Months after being heckled by students of the Washington DC school, Dave Chappelle’s alma mater has decided to name a theater after him.
Duke Ellington School of the Arts planned the unveiling of the Dave Chappelle Theater on June 20 with a dedication ceremony to the comedian, TMZ reports.
Chappelle visited the Duke Ellington School of the Arts to speak in November, but was met with furor from many of the students who currently attend over jokes he made about transgender people in several Netflix comedy specials, with one 16-year old calling him ‘childish .’
The heated Q&A became increasingly contentious between Chappelle and the students, with the comedian remarking ‘I’m better than every instrumentalist, artist, no matter what art you do in this school, right now, I’m better than all of you. I’m sure that will change. I’m sure you’ll be household names soon.’
Following the response from the students at the school, Chappelle issued a challenge on Instagram for those who opposed the school’s plans for a building named after him: ‘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.’
Prior to issuing the challenge, Chappelle has been a generous donor to the school over the years, reportedly donating $100,000 and one of his Emmy awards in 2017.
Duke Ellington School of the Arts planned the unveiling of the Dave Chappelle Theater on June 20 with a dedication ceremony to the comedian
Dave Chappelle speaks at his Duke Ellington School of the Arts, where he will have a theater named after him
Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington DC, where Chappelle graduated from in 1991
It appears his opposition were unable to raise enough money, and now his name will appear on the Dave Chappelle theatre.
Much of the backlash directed at Chappelle came after comments he made in his special ‘The Closer,’ including the statement ‘gender is a fact,’ and aligning himself with Harry Potter author JK Rowling, who famously stated transgender women were not real women in 2019.
Daphne Dorman, a trans comedian and friend of Chappelle, died in 2019 and is spoken about in Chappelle’s Netflix special ‘The Closer’
He also jokes about the anatomy of transwomen in the Netflix special, saying that they lacked real female reproductive organs and that they did not have menstrual blood but ‘beet juice’ instead.
Chappelle also spoke about his friend and transwoman Daphne Dorman, who killed herself in 2019 at the age of 44 after defending Chappelle over earlier jokes he’d made.
‘When she did that, the trans community dragged that b**** through Twitter,’ Chappelle said in ‘The Closer.’
‘It’s a true story; my heart was broken,’ he continued. ‘I do n’t know what was going on, but I’ll bet dragging her de ella did n’t help.’
The jokes he made resulted in a fiery backlash against the Ohio comedian, who says his documentary was pulled from film festivals and dropped by film distributors.
Organizations like the National Black Justice Coalition and GLAAD condemned the jokes told in Chappelle’s special.
Chappelle’s special ‘The Closer,’ his latest in a string of comedy acts for Netflix, ignited debate around his remarks on transgender people and the LGBTQ community
Chappelle’s jokes about the transgender community were backed by Netflix, with Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos defending the comedian in an internal email, saying ‘we don’t allow titles on Netflix that are designed to incite hate or violence, and we don’t believe crosses that line.’
Chappelle thanked the co-CEO at a later comedy show, telling the audience ‘thank God for Ted Sarandos at Netflix, he’s the only one that didn’t cancel me yet.’
Netflix faced backlash for the defense, including employee resignations and an organized employee walkout last October.
Dave Chappelle and Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos are seen speaking backstage at the 36th Annual Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on October 30, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio
But Sarandos later backtracked on his initial stance, saying ‘I screwed up the internal communication — and I don’t mean just mechanically.’
Sarandos continued: ‘I feel I should’ve made sure to recognize that a group of our employees was hurting very badly from the decision made, and I should’ve recognized upfront before going into a rationalization of anything the pain they were going through. I say that because I respect them deeply, and I love the contribution they have at Netflix. They were hurting, and I should’ve recognized that first.’
Many transgender activists felt Chappelle’s comedy was an example of ‘punching down’ on a community with little power. In a video posted to his Instagram after the special, Chappelle said he would meet with the transgender community but will not be ‘bending to anybody’s demands.’