News & Politics

Dave Chappelle Says You Should Vote on Whether a DC Theater Should Be Named for Him

The comedian is trying to turn the PR debacle into a fundraising boost for his alma mater, Duke Ellington.

Are you against Duke Ellington School of the Arts renaming its theater after alum Dave Chappelle? The comedian says you should vote on it—with your dollars.

Chappelle made an impromptu visit to the school last week for a conversation with students about his divisive comments about the LGBTQ+ community and about their outrage that the school wants to rename its theater for its most famous alum. The Washington Post described the school assembly with 580 students as “heated.” After the visit, Chappelle took to Instagram over the weekend with a challenge. He proposed to his 2.5 million followers that they donate to the school and tell it whether or not they think the theater should be renamed for him in April as planned.



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“Whichever opinion donates the highest collective dollar amount, wins. If by April, those against the ‘Chappelle’ theater exceed the donations of those who are neutral or in favor of the theater 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 fuck up, forever.”

But a statement issued by the school yesterday says that it will continue with the re-dedication regardless of Chappelle’s challenge.

“While we appreciate Dave’s impromptu and spirited fundraising initiative, we stand behind our decision to honor the wishes of our co-founder, the late Peggy Cooper Cafritz, to name the theatre after Chappelle,” the statement reads. It says that “a clear majority of students at Ellington favor naming the theatre for Dave Chappelle.” It also says that all donations received as a result of Chappelle’s call to action will go toward art programming.

A spokesperson for the school has not responded to a request for comment about how much money has come in so far.