Comedian Dave Chappelle decided that he would leave his name off of a theater at his high school in order to avoid offending anyone after some liberal students protested against him.
Chappelle made the announcement on Monday at the naming ceremony at Duke Ellington School of the Arts, his alma mater.
Chappelle had donated money and helped raise money for the new theater for the school he says was pivotal in his development as an iconic comedian. The school responded by saying it would name the theater after Chappelle.
That honor was soured when some students at the school protested against the decision based on the controversy surrounding jokes he made that offended some in the transgender and LGBTQ communities.
Chappelle addressed those protests on Monday when he announced the decision.
“These kids didn’t understand that they were instruments of oppression,” he said according to a Washington Post reporter.
“When you say I can’t say something, the more urgent is it 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,” Chappelle argued.
In November, the school said that they would continue with their plan to name the theater after Chappelle and reject the attempt by some students to cancel the comedian.
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.
On Monday, Chappelle refused to concede to the students protesting against him and said that they were just acting in support of someone else’s political agenda. But he decided against putting his name on the theater.
“The idea that my name will be turned into an instrument of someone else’s perceived oppression is untenable to me,” he added.
“The Ellington family is my family,” Chappelle concluded.
The theater will instead be named the Theater for Artistic Freedom and Expression.
Chappelle has given and raised millions of dollars for his high school.
Here’s more about the incident:
Dave Chappelle defers Duke Ellington honor