Ellie Kemper broke her silence after old photos showed the star attending a debutante ball years ago, linked to an organization accused of racism.
“Hi guys – when I was 19, I decided to go to a debutante ball in my hometown,” the actress wrote in a long Instagram post on Monday. “The century-old organization that hosted the debutante ball had an unmistakably racist, sexist and elitist past. I was not aware of this story at the time, but ignorance is no excuse. I was old enough to educate myself before committing myself. . “
“I unequivocally deplore, denounce and reject white supremacy,” the actress continued. “At the same time, I recognize that because of my race and my privileges, I am the beneficiary of a system that has delivered unequal justice and unequal rewards.”
“There is a very natural temptation, when you are criticized on the Internet, to tell you that your detractors are completely wrong,” Kemper continued. “But at one point last week, I realized that many forces behind the criticism are forces that I have spent my life supporting and accepting.”
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“I strongly believe in the values of kindness, integrity and inclusion,” she shared. “I try to live my life in accordance with these values. If my experience is any indication that organizations and institutions whose past does not match these beliefs need to be held accountable, then I need to view this experience in a positive light. “
“I want to apologize to the people I have disappointed, and I promise that in the future I will listen, continue to educate myself and use my privilege to support the better society that I think we are capable of. to become, ”she concluded. . “Thanks for reading this.”
The 41-year-old, known for her iconic roles in Netflix’s “The Office” and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” faced backlash after the photos were discovered over Memorial Day weekend. The footage showed the actress attending a 1999 event known in St. Louis as the “Veiled Prophet’s Ball”. At the time, the then 19-year-old student Kemper was crowned “Queen of Love and Beauty” at the event, a title that was awarded to more than 100 attendees.
According to the Veiled Prophet Organization website, the winners hold the title for one year.
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The initial imagery of organizing a “veiled prophet” has been widely examined. The Atlantic reported in 2014 that he portrays a similar appearance to a Klansman. However, Rolling Stone noted that the ball predated the Ku Klux Klan by decades.
At the time, Kemper’s reps had not responded to Fox News’ multiple requests for comment. In a statement to Fox News on Tuesday, the Veiled Prophet (VP) organization spoke out against racism.
“The VP organization is dedicated to civic advancement, economic contributions and charitable causes in St. Louis. Our organization believes in and promotes inclusion, diversity and equity for the entire region. We absolutely reject racism and do not we are never associated with any organization that harbors these beliefs, ”the statement said.
The organization’s vice president also confirmed to Fox News that Kemper was crowned Queen of Love and Beauty in 1999.
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While the contest only allowed white entrants when it was created in 1878, banning blacks and American Jews, it welcomed its first black members in 1979, 20 years before Kemper’s participation at age 19 and a year before. His birth.
Thomas Spencer, professor at Texas A&M University-Kingsville has written a book on the subject entitled “The St. Louis Veiled Prophet Celebration: Power on Parade, 1877-1995”. In a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times, Spencer claimed the prom Kemper attended was a debutante ball, but spoke about its history of racist claims.
“The first parade has pretty overt racial symbolism and intimidation. The vice president was armed, and there was an executioner block on the float, etc.,” Spencer said at the outlet.
Spencer goes on to say that the VP organization was “almost shut down” in the 1970s due to protests. The author added that despite the allegations, there was no evidence of a link between the organization and the KKK.
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Still, “KKK Princess” was all the rage on Twitter, with users saying the “Bridesmaids” actress should be canceled.
“Ellie Kemper grew up in a wealthy family outside of an elite society. She was attending Princeton University when she crowned Princess KKK at age 19. I’m 100% sure she was okay. familiar with the history of the Veiled Prophet Ball, “wrote one user.
In another tweet, the user added: “I know for a fact that her parents groomed her to be Princess KKK of their secret society for years before that.”
A person added: “I mean ….. ellie Kemper was apparently crowned in a legit kkk beauty pageant so …. people obviously change so that doesn’t mean she’s a terrible person * now * but …. could benefit from offering some sort of explanation of what has changed since then. “
Another claimed Kemper, who was born in Kansas City, comes from “one of the wealthiest families in the state.” It’s a Kemper. It’s like Missouri royalty, ”the person said.
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As it became a trending topic quite quickly on the social media platform, several denounced Twitter for letting false rumors spread about the star.
“Your tweet embodies what’s bad about Twitter. People tweet with ‘100% sure’ about the inner motivations of people they’ve never met,” another wrote.
One user added: “You mean the organization which had diversified even before its birth? The one which, even today, gives large sums to the community and organizes a free party on July 4th? You should be ashamed …”
Twitter representatives did not immediately return Fox News’ request for comment.
Fox News’ Cortney O’Brien and Melissa Roberto contributed to this report.
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