Dave Chapel revealed that he decided not to bear the name of the theater in his former high school, after plans were initially made to make it the eponymous place.
The stand-up comedian made his case public on Monday night while visiting Washington, D.C., for a dedication ceremony at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, his alma mater. The Washington Post first told the story.
While Chappelle confirmed that he believed the criticism against him was not productive, he also said he did not want his name to be in the theater if it would distract students.
Instead of the student theater named after him, the space will be called the Theater for Artistic Freedom and Expression.
Chappelle representatives were not immediately available for comment.
The school originally made plans for a naming ceremony with Chappelle last year, but dedication was postponed after the comedian became the subject of controversy among members and allies of the LGBTQ + community over the use of a language described as transphobic in his 2021 Netflix special “The Closer”.
In particular, Chappelle too became the subject of criticism by some members of Duke Ellington’s student body in November when he visited campus. Some students questioned the comedian directly about his rejection of the criticism he received from LGBTQ + individuals.
“I’m 16 and I think you’re childish, you did it as a child,” one student reportedly told Chappelle at the time.
“The Ellington family is my family,” Chapel confirmed Monday night after announcing his decision.
Chappelle remains one of Duke Ellington’s most prolific donors and supporters, having donated several million dollars to the institution, given introductory speeches, and hosted master classes for students. He described the initial decision to name the theater after him as “the most significant honor of my life.”