Dave Chappelle's high school postpones renaming ceremony following 'heated' student debate

Dave Chappelle's high school postpones renaming ceremony following 'heated' student debate

The Duke Ellington School of the Arts high school theater was set to be named after its alumnus Dave Chappelle on Nov. 23. But following controversy around the comedian’s Netflix special, the ceremony has been postponed. 

In a statement to its website, the high school, which Chappelle graduated from in 1991, announced the renaming ceremony will be held on April 22, 2022. Chappelle’s special, “The Closer” sparked outage and debates surrounding his remarks about the LGBTQ+ community. 

Chappelle attempted to juxtapose the pace of civil rights gained by LGBTQ people over those fought for by the Black community and expressed solidarity with “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling, who drew backlash in 2019 for conflating sex with gender.

Politico reported the ceremony was postponed following a “heated debate” between students and faculty regarding Chappelle. The debate led students to mention a potential walkout if the event moved forward.

“We also believe moving forward with the event, originally scheduled for November 23, 2021, without first addressing questions and concerns from members of the Ellington community, would be a missed opportunity for a teachable moment,” the statement read.

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Chappelle’s publicist Carla Sims told Politico that, “We’ve been working on a way to make sure the students understand what’s in the special.”

Sims did not immediately respond to a USA TODAY request for comment.

The arts school said they’ve “engaged in listening sessions” with students to hear critics and perspectives surrounding the renaming. It went on to list Chappelle’s various monetary contributions to the institution and urged students to remember an artist faces “both responsibility and an increased level of scrutiny.”

“We recognize that not everyone will accept or welcome a particular artist’s point of view, product or craft, but reject the notion that a ‘cancel culture’ is a healthy or constructive means to teach our students how society should balance creative freedom with protecting the rights and dignity of all its members,” the school statement read. 

More on cancel culture:‘Stan’ culture needs to stop – or at least radically change. Here’s why.

Follow Gabriela Miranda on Twitter: @itsgabbymiranda

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