Following his controversial visit to his alma mater, Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, D.C., Dave Chappelle, is leaving the decision of whether to rename the school’s theatre after him in the hands of donors.
“Talk is cheap (Unless I do it),” Chappelle wrote in an Instagram post. “The Duke Ellington school is a glorious institution. Within those walls I found a context to explore my creativity seriously. Duke Ellington, in large part, prepared me to undertake this noble and difficult profession. It was a fine institution before any of its current occupants got there. God willing, it will be a fine institution long after their tenure is done. My only intent is to insure Duke Ellington the opportunity to train its artists unfettered.”
As Chappelle wrote, while he finds the request to rename the theatre after him “a great honour,” he insisted it was “not my idea, aim or desire.”
As a result, he’s asking those who “object to my receiving this honour… to donate to the school noting your objection. If you are in favour of the theater being named ‘Chappelle’, I urge you to donate to the school, noting your approval.”
He concluded, “Whichever opinion donates the highest collective dollar amount, wins. If by April, those against the ‘Chappelle’ theatre exceed the donations of those who are neutral or in favor of the theatre being named ‘Chappelle’, I will gladly step aside. If not, I will happily attend the naming ceremony. And if you don’t care enough to donate… please shut the f**k up, forever.”
As Politico reported, Chappelle spoke to students at the school on Nov. 23, where an audience of about 600 students assembled.
The visit comes after the recent controversy around comments made in his Netflix special “The Closer” towards the transgender community. A fundraiser for the school was planned for the same day, but has since been postponed due to threats of a student walkout.
Students at the Q&A session reportedly criticized Chappelle’s content as well as his response to the backlash.
“I’m 16 and I think you’re childish, you handled it like a child,” one student said.
He responded to the comment with, “My friend, with all due respect, I don’t believe you could make one of the decisions I have to make on a given day.”
Cameras recorded throughout the session and students were asked to seal their phones in pouches prior to entering the event.
While reception to the comedian was mixed, he held no grudges towards the students and gave out free tickets for a screening of his documentary “Untitled” held later that night which provided “600 Thanksgiving meals for students and staff.”