Ellie Kemper responded to her reaction to her 1999 participation in a racist debut ball in St. Louis.
“The century-old organization that hosted the debut ball had a clear 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 get an education before getting involved, “Kemper wrote on Instagram on Monday.
After a Twitter user posted last week about the existence of the Wave of Prophecy Ball, others quickly distributed snippets of newsletters showing Kemper’s involvement in the event. According to the St. Louis archives, after his departure, Kemper, then a 19-year-old freshman at Princeton University, was crowned Queen of Love and Beauty at the Blessed Prophet’s Ball on December 24, 1999, at the Mark Adam Hotel. The hotel has been converted into a Hyatt Regency St. Louis Riverfront in 2008.
From time to time I remember that the Woolly Prophetic Ball exists and that everything that was a real detective season 1 is real pic.twitter.com/BtFh1Y6lmg
– keraskerville 🇺🇸🏳️🌈🇻🇦🇸🇦 (@WB_Baskerville) May 31, 2021
“I unequivocally regret, condemn and reject the supremacy of whites. At the same time, I recognize that because of my race and my privilege, I am a beneficiary of a system that provides unequal justice and unequal rewards, ”she continued.
Founded in 1878 by 14 wealthy St. Louis businessmen, the Veiled Prophets Organization was created in part in response to “growing labor unrest in the city, much of which involved cooperation between white and black workers,” and forbade African Americans and Jews from join, according to an article published by the Atlantic in 2014. In fact, the first veiled prophet was St. Louis Police Commissioner John G. Priest, who helped thwart the Great Rail Strike of 1877. Reproduced illustration of him wearing a hood and white the mantle and holding of a rifle and pistol made new comparisons with the Ku Klux Klan, but the event has no known links to the white Suprematist group.
“It is quite natural to be tempted, when you become the object of internet criticism, to tell yourself that your ill-wishers are wrong. But at some point last week, I realized that much of the force behind the criticism was a force with which I had spent my life in support and agreement, “Kemper said in a statement.
“I want to apologize to the people I have disappointed, and I promise that I will continue to listen, continue to learn, and use my privilege to support the better society that I think we are capable of becoming.”
The closed prophetic ball, which took place around Christmas, was a “powerful symbol of this affirmation of control”, which doubled over the “static racial and economic structure of the city’s power”, writes Scott Beauchamp for The Atlantic.
The ball, during which a secret committee selected a man – whose identity was kept secret – for the veiled prophet, who in turn chose the queen as the veiled prophet, was one of several events organized by the elite group.
The organization worked to erase its past, including opening its doors to African-American members in 1979. In 1992, the ball was renamed Fair Saint Louis, “nominally erasing its connection to its past,” according to The Atlantic.
Kemper is from one of the richest banking families in the Midwest. Kemper’s great-great-grandfather, William Thornton Kemper Sr., developed Commerce Bancshares and United Missouri Bank in the early 20th century.
She is best known for her role as Erin Hannon in five seasons of The Office and the headliner of her own series, Netflix’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, from 2015 to 2019. She won two Emmy nominations for the latter. The actor also appears in various comedy films such as “The Bridesmaids” and “21 Jump Street”. Camper will star in the upcoming restart of Disney Plus ‘Home Alone’, along with Archie Yates, Rob Delaney and Kenan Thompson.