Anthony Anderson was approached for his opinion on the ongoing odyssey his friend Dave Chappelle is on. Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, D.C. previously announced plans to name its theater after Chappelle. However, during the dedication ceremony on Monday, Chappelle announced he is declining the offer.
TMZ caught up with the former Law & Order star to hear his opinion on the matter. “I think it’s a classy move not only for Dave but for anybody to go back – you know – it’s a selfless move not to have a theater named after yourself but to give it a little bit more meaning for the community. For the people who speak their truth,” Anderson said.
Anderson went on to say he’s a friend and a fan of Chapelle’s regardless of the media storm currently surrounding the comedian. Although, he does stop short of calling Chapelle a champion of free speech by his definition of the term.
“My champions of free speech go back to Dr. Martin Luther King and people like that,” Anderson said. “I’m a friend and a fan of Dave Chappelle. And I love what he’s doing. And a lot of people may not agree with some the things that he says, but that’s their opinion.”
Behind the Dave Chappelle Controversy With His Alma Mater
Chappelle has been at the center of controversy since last year when his Netflix special, The Closer, was released. His routine received criticism for jokes he made toward the transgender community.
The comedian grew up in Washington D.C. and attended the prestigious school that attempted to name their new theater after. The Duke Ellington School of the Arts educates a predominately Black student body as well as a significant LGBTQ community.
Chappelle is from Washington DC, and a 1991 graduate of the prestigious school, which educates a predominantly Black student body and a significant LGBTQ community. Chappelle pledged to donate $100,000 to the school’s theater which will now be called the Theatre for Artistic Freedom & Expression.
“I used to skip school. I would hide in there when I was skipping class. Who would have thought that that theater would one day be named after me?” Chappelle said in a speech reported by The Washington Post. “But I understand it because sometimes when you love things, they love you back. And I loved that school.”
Anderson was asked what he would name a building if given the opportunity. He was bemused by the idea of receiving such an honor but reflected on what he would like to accomplish rather than what he would name the building. A sentiment Chappelle likely agrees with from his friend.
“Let’s invest in humanity, and what we contribute to the culture and to the world as people as a whole,” Anderson poignantly said.