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Dave Chappelle Says His Former High School’s Theater Won’t Have His Name

Dave Chappelle has decided against renaming his former high school’s performance theater after himself. 

Duke Ellington School of Arts, in Washington, D.C., will no longer bear the comedian’s name. The news comes from Chappelle, who made the announcement during an appearance at a dedication ceremony, where he said the theater would be renamed the Theater for Artistic Freedom and Expression.

This all comes after the backlash Chappelle faced from his standup The Closer, not just online but from the Duke Ellington School of Arts students. Some of whom shunned him when the comedian opened up the opportunity for students to share how they felt about his show during a visit he made to the school.

Washington Post columnist and CNN analyst Josh Rogin detailed Chappelle’s response to the criticism and explained why he didn’t rename the theater after himself. 

“These kids didn’t understand that they were instruments of oppression,” Rogin says Chappelle mentioned. “You cannot report on an artist’s work and remove artistic nuance,” Rogin says he continued. “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.”

By the end of it, Chappelle explained his decision, saying he didn’t want students to feel bad if they were to see his name. “The idea that my name will be turned into an instrument of someone else’s perceived oppression is untenable to me.”

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