Following the release of his last Netflix comedy special, The Closer, Dave Chappelle was met with a swarm of controversy over his transphobic views. In the midst of his controversy, Chappelle’s alma mater, Duke Ellington School Of The Arts, made the decision to rename the school’s theatre after the legendary comedian.
This decision was met with backlash by many students who did not support Chappelle’s views. Chappelle even came to the school where he engaged in a discussion with students against the theatre being named after him. He later announced a fundraiser, and would only go forward with the renaming if more money was raised in favor of the theatre being renamed after him.
Well, more money was raised in Chappelle’s favor, and on Monday, the official renaming ceremony took place. During the ceremony, however, Chappelle decided against the theatre being named after him.
“I took a lot of cold shots in business… but that day, they hurt me,” Chappelle said to the crowd on Monday night. He went on to defend his stand-up, calling it a “masterpiece.”
“No matter what they say about ‘The Closer,’ it is still (one of the) most-watched specials on Netflix. The more you say I can’t say something, the more urgent it is for me to say it. It has nothing to do with what you are saying I can’t say. It has everything to do with my freedom of artistic expression.”
He then said he would not “reject” but would “defer” the theatre’s renaming in order to emphasize the nuance of art” as well as “my right, my freedom of artistic expression.” He said that the theatre will instead be named the Theater of Artistic Freedom & Expression, which was met with applause. Chappelle noted that he made the decision last Friday.