Ellie Kemper faces calls to be canceled on social media over participation in ‘racist’ ball


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Actress Ellie Kemper is being widely condemned on Twitter for participating in a debutante ball years ago that is linked to an organization that's been accused of racism.

Kemper, known for her iconic roles in "The Office" and Netflix's "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt," is facing backlash after old photos surfaced over Memorial Day weekend showing the star participating in a 1999 event known in St. Louis as the "Veiled Prophet Ball." At the time, Kemper, then a 19-year-old college student, was crowned the "Queen of Love and Beauty" at the event, a title that's been given to over 100 participants.

According to the Veiled Prophet Organization's website, winners hold the title for one year. 

The organization's initial imagery of a "Veiled Prophet" has been widely scrutinized. The Atlantic reported in 2014 that it depicted a similar appearance to a Klansman. However, Rolling Stone notes that the ball predates the Ku Klux Klan by several decades. 

Representatives for Kemper did not respond to Fox News' multiple requests for comment. In a statement to Fox News on Tuesday, the Veiled Prophet (VP) Organization denounced racism.


December 23, 1999 - Elizabeth Claire Kemper, the 1999 Veiled Prophet Queen of Love and Beauty, speaks with pages Katy Angevine (left), 8, and Jacqueline Probst, 7, before going on stage Thursday night to accept her crown.  (Photo by Jamie Rector/St. Louis Post Dispatch/Polaris)

"The VP organization is dedicated to civic progress, 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 have never associated with any organization that harbors these beliefs," the statement reads.

The VP Organization also confirmed to Fox News Kemper was crowned the Queen of Love and Beauty in 1999.

While the pageant only allowed White participants when it was founded in 1878, banning Blacks and Jewish Americans, it welcomed its first Black members in 1979, a full 20 years before Kemper's participation at age 19, and a year before she was born. 

Thomas Spencer, a professor at Texas A&M University-Kingsville wrote a book on the subject titled "The St. Louis Veiled Prophet Celebration: Power on Parade, 1877-1995." In a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times, Spencer claimed the ball Kemper attended was a debutante ball, but spoke to its history of racist claims.


The 'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt' star has yet to speak out about the controversy surrounding her involvement with the Veiled Prophet Ball in 1999. (Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SCAD aTVfest 2019)

"The first parade has some pretty overt racial symbolism and intimidation. The VP was armed, and there was an executioner's block on the float, etc.," Spencer told the outlet.

Spencer goes on to claim that the VP Organization was "almost shut down" in the 1970s over protests. The author furthered stated that despite the claims, there hasn't been evidence of a link between the organization and the KKK.

Still, "KKK Princess" trended on Twitter earlier this week, with Twitter users claiming the "Bridesmaids" actress should be canceled.

"Ellie Kemper was brought up in a wealthy family apart of an elite society. She was attending Princeton University at the time she has crowned KKK princess at 19. I'm 100% sure she was well aware of the history of the Veiled Prophet Ball," one user wrote.


In another tweet, the user further alleged: "I know for a fact her parents have been prepping her to be the KKK princess of their secret society for years leading up to that."

One person added, "i mean..... ellie kemper was apparently crowned in a legit kkk beauty pageant so.... people obviously change, so it doesn't mean she's a terrible person *now* but.... might benefit from offering some kinda explanation of what's changed since then."

Another claimed Kemper, who was born in Kansas City, comes from "one of the wealthiest families in the state. "She's a Kemper. That's like Missouri royalty," the person claimed.

As it became a trending topic rather quickly on the social media platform, several denounced Twitter for allowing false rumors to spread about the star.

"Not true! Stop #twittershaming with fake facts!!!!" one argued.


"Your tweet epitomizes what is bad about Twitter. People tweeting with "100% certainty" about the inner motivations of people they have never met," another wrote.

One user added: "You mean the organization that had diversified before she was even born? The one that even today donates large sums to the community and has a free 4th of July celebration? You should be ashamed..."

Reps for Twitter did not immediately return Fox News' request for comment.

Fox News' Cortney O'Brien contributed to this report.
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