Dave Chappelle will 'step aside' if critics of high school theater naming ceremony donate money

Dave Chappelle is asking people to put their money where their mouths are.

The comedian addressed critics of his former high school naming a theater after him, noting though it wasn't his "idea, aim or desire" it was still "a great honor."

"At the request of our beloved school's founder, Peggy Cooper Krafitz, I accepted. If you object to my receiving this honor, I urge you to donate to the school, noting your objection. If you are in favor of the theater being named ‘Chappelle,’ I urge you to donate to the school, noting your approval," he wrote on Instagram Saturday in captions placed over a series of photos in his Instagram post.

The Duke Ellington School of the Arts high school theater was set to be named after its alumnus Chappelle on Nov. 23. But following controversy around the comedian's Netflix special, the ceremony has been postponed. 

In a statement to its website, the high school, which Chappelle graduated from in 1991, announced the renaming ceremony will be held on April 22, 2022.

In his Instagram post, Chappelle said he will act according to whichever opinion raises the most donations by the time of the renaming ceremony.

"If by April, those against the 'Chappelle' theater exceed the donations of those who are neutral or in favor of the theater named 'Chappelle,' I will gladly step aside. If not, I will happily attend the naming ceremony," he wrote.

USA TODAY has reached out to Chappelle's reps and Duke Ellington School of the Arts for comment. 

The comedian visited his alma mater last week to speak to students about the backlash his comedy special ignited, according to Politico's Playbook and The Washington Post. The assembly, which almost 600 students attended, drew mixed responses.

Dave Chappelle in his Netflix special, "The Closer."

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Chappelle's special, "The Closer" sparked outage and debates surrounding his remarks about the LGBTQ+ community, in particular his focus on the transgender community. In the special, Chappelle also attempted to juxtapose the pace of civil rights gained by LGBTQ people over those fought for by the Black community and expressed solidarity with "Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling, who drew backlash in 2019 for conflating sex with gender.

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Chappelle’s publicist Carla Sims told Politico that, “We’ve been working on a way to make sure the students understand what’s in the special.”

Sims did not immediately respond to a USA TODAY request for comment.

The arts school said they've "engaged in listening sessions" with students to hear critics and perspectives surrounding the renaming. It went on to list Chappelle's various monetary contributions to the institution and urged students to remember an artist faces "both responsibility and an increased level of scrutiny."

"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," the school statement read. 

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