Dave Chappelle’s High School Postpones Fundraiser After Student Walkout Threats

  • Dave Chappelle’s alma mater postponed a fundraiser appearance from the comedian after students threatened to walkout.
  • The event, originally slated for this month, will be held in 2022 to raise money for a theater named after the comedian.
  • Chappelle sparked controversy over comments he made about the trans community in his Netflix special, “The Closer.”

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Dave Chappelle’s alma mater is delaying a fundraiser event featuring the comedian after facing backlash from students threatening to walkout of school.

Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Baltimore pushed the date of a fundraiser — partly held in Chappelle’s honor — after receiving criticism from its student body over Chappelle’s comments about the LGBTQ+ community in his latest



Chappelle and Netflix both faced controversy in October over the release of his comedy special, “The Closer,” which featured insensitive jokes aimed at the transgender community. The outcry over the special and how the streamer’s treatment the trans community subsequently led to a walkout from Netflix employees and even legal action. Chappelle has since said he is willing to meet with the trans community, while Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos continues to back Chappelle and the special.

The fundraiser was postponed from November 23 to April 2022, and was being held to raise money for a new theater that would be named after the comedian.

Students got into a heated debate with faculty, according to Politico Playbook, after faculty asked them to create an Chappelle-related exhibition for the fundraiser. The students expressed their discomfort with the comedian, siding with their fellow LGBTQ+ classmates, and even threatened to walkout if the fundraiser continued.

Chappelle has given his support to the school over the years, donating a total of $100,000 and giving the school one of his Emmy awards, according to Deadline. He also held a masterclass for students in 2017 featuring fellow actors Bradley Cooper and Chris Tucker.

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

Chappelle’s representatives did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for further comment.

“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,” Duke Ellington School of the Arts said in a statement.

School officials said that moving forward with the event without addressing questions and concerns from the Ellington community “would be a missed opportunity for a teachable moment.” 

The school will also be holding “listening sessions” for students to discuss the complaints. It also says that it will be incorporating topics surrounding political activism, civic engagement, arts activism, and the intersections of race, gender, and sexuality into its social studies curriculum in response to Chappelle’s latest work.

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