*Duke Ellington School of the Arts high school was set to name its theater after Dave Chappelle but the event has been postponed by five months over threats of student protests in response to comedian’s latest Netflix special, “The Closer.”
In a statement posted to its website on Friday, the D.C. public school — which Chappelle graduated from in 1991 — announced that the theater renaming is being pushed back to April 22, 2022.
“As a learning institution that champions inclusivity, diversity, equity and belonging, we care deeply about protecting the well-being and dignity of every member of our student body, faculty and community,” the statement reads. “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.”
In a statement, the school detailed its decision to not cancel the fundraising event.
“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 statement reads.
Duke Ellington School also expanded its Social Studies curriculum to cover gender and sexuality issues in response to Chappelle’s alleged anti-trans jokes in “The Closer.”
“Our objective is to uplift conversations around artistic freedom and artistic responsibility,” the school wrote. “Through these endeavors, we want our students to own their art and understand that being an artist and public figure comes with both responsibility and an increased level of scrutiny.”
Last month, Dave Chappelle posted a clip to his official Instagram page in which he responds to the controversy over his Netflix special.
“To the transgender community, I am more than willing to give you an audience, but you will not summon me,” the comedian says in the five-minute clip. “I am not bending to anyone’s demands,” he added.
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Chappelle also jokes that he has several conditions before he meets with the trans community.
“To the transgender community, I am more than willing to give you an audience, but you will not summon me. I am not bending to anybody’s demands,” he said. “And if you want to meet with me, I’d be more than willing to, but I have some conditions. First of all, you cannot come if you have not watched my special from beginning to end. You must come to a place of my choosing at a time of my choosing. And thirdly, you must admit that Hannah Gadsby is not funny.”
Gadsby, an Australian comedian slammed Chappelle and Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos for defending “The Closer.”