Dave Chappelle has decided against having the theater at his former high school named after him.
During Monday's (June 20) dedication ceremony at his alma mater — Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington D.C. — the famed comedian announced that he would not place his name on the theater, saying, he didn’t want his name to be on it if that would distract students. Instead, Chappelle decided the theatre will be called the Theater for Artistic Freedom and Expression.
“The Ellington family is my family,” Chappelle said on Monday, per Variety, after announcing his decision, which as he explained, came after students expressed their discontent with him over his controversial Netflix special "The Closer."
Last year, Chappelle's alma mater announced its plan to rename its performance theater after its most revered alumni in honor of his "ongoing commitment and service to the school." However, the decision was met with backlash following the release of Chappelle's 2021 Netflix special “The Closer," which members and allies of the LGBTQ+ community deemed problematic for its use of transphobic language.
Back in November, Chappelle visited his former high school and invited students who had an issue with his special to speak during an assembly. One student called him a bigot, adding, "I'm 16 and I think you're childish."
Chappelle had previously described the initial decision to name the theater after him as “the most significant honor of my life.”
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