Dave Chappelle's Benefit Concert Honors Dayton Victims

Comedian Dave Chappelle hosted a benefit concert to honor the victims of the Dayton mass shooting that took place earlier this month.

On August 25, Chappelle, who lives in Yellow Springs, Ohio staged the “Gem City Shine” benefit concert in Dayton, which took place in the city’s Oregon District a day after the comedian’s birthday. The free concert raised money for the survivors and the victims of the shooting that took place on August 4, after a gunman killed nine people and injured dozens more.

Performers like Thundercat, Teyana Taylor, and Talib Kweli took to the stage to perform. The show ended with appearances by Chance the Rapper and Stevie Wonder. During the show, Chappelle said there were 120,000 people in attendance.

“Don’t forget what this place is about! Mankind learned how to fly in this city,” Chappelle told the crowd. “Don’t forget what this place is about. When the rest of the country was all slavery, everybody was free in Ohio.”

With the help of comedian Jon Stewart, the crowd sang a rendition of “Happy Birthday” to Chappelle. Mayor Nan Whaley told the publication that the mayor and the Chamber of Commerce raised the money for security for the benefit concert and Chappelle donated the stage and invited artists to join him on stage. Whaley honored Chappelle by declaring the day Dave Chapelle Day, the LA Times reported.

“And the least we can do, Dave, is we have declared it Dave Chappelle Day in Dayton, Ohio,” Whaley said on stage.

Rapper Kanye West also hosted a surprise Sunday Service in Ohio to honor the survivors and the victims of the Dayton mass shooting. The event took place in RiverScape MetroPark in Dayton under a large white tent, USA Today reported. The rapper’s wife, Kim Kardashian West, and Chappelle also attended.

"Listen, we've been through a tough time," Chappelle told the crowd during the hour-and-a-half service. "There have been tornadoes, there's been Klan rallies, there's been shooting — but we're still here, we're still strong.... The best way that we can honor our fallen is by getting up better than we were before.

"We will not let those people die in vain. They're our heroes, they're our martyrs. This is our city," he continued.

In May, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts announced Chappelle would receive the 22nd annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in October. In their announcement, the center called the comedian a “no-holds-barred comedian” who “could always make people laugh.”

“Dave is the embodiment of Mark Twain’s observation that ‘against the assault of humor, nothing can stand.’ For three decades, Dave has challenged us to see hot-button issues from his entirely original yet relatable perspective,” said Kennedy Center President Deborah F. Rutter in a previous statement. “Dave’s a great guy and a hometown hero here in Washington, DC where he grew up. We’re so looking forward to welcoming him back home.”

The Mark Twain Prize is an award that “recognizes people who have had an impact on American society in ways similar to the distinguished 19th century novelist and essayist best known as Mark Twain,” the website stated. Last year, comedian and actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus received the award. Other award recipients include David Letterman, Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, and Whoopi Goldberg. Comedian Richard Pryor was the first person to receive the award in 1998, according to the Kennedy Center’s website.

Chappelle has won several awards for his comedy over the years and is a two-time Emmy winner. Last year, the comedian won the Emmy for Outstanding Variety Special for his Netflix show Dave Chappelle: Equanimity. The year before, Chappelle won an Emmy for Outstanding Guest in a Comedy Series for hosting an episode of Saturday Night Live (SNL). The Kennedy Center called Chappelle’s SNL monologue for the show a “memorable, panoramic monologue,” which was delivered four days after the election of President Donald Trump.

Chappelle will receive the award on October 27, at a gala in Washington, DC. The program will broadcast the award show on PBS stations on January 6, 2020.

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in the various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.