Actress Ellie Kemper has issued an apology for her participation in the Veiled Prophet Ball, hosted by the Veiled Prophet organization, a 135-year-old civic and philanthropic organization based in St. Louis.

What happened to Ellie Kemper?

Earlier in June, photos surfaced of her as the “Veiled Prophet Queen of Love and Beauty” in a 1999 ball for the Veiled Prophet organization. Photos published by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch showed Kemper winning the crown, as I wrote for the Deseret News.

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Why are people mad at Ellie Kemper?
  • Social media criticized the organization because it previously excluded Black and Jewish people from being members until 1979, according to BuzzFeed News.
  • A former Confederate officer reportedly founded the organization, too, according to BuzzFeed News.

What did Ellie Kemper say in her apology?

Kemper posted an apology on her Instagram account Monday.

  • “The century-old organization that hosted the debutante ball had an unquestionably racist, sexist and elitist past,” Kemper said in a statement. “I was not aware of this history at the time, but ignorance is no excuse. I was old enough to have educated myself before getting involved.”
  • “I unequivocally deplore, denounce and reject white supremacy. At the same time, I acknowledge that because of my race and my privilege, I am the beneficiary of a system that dispensed unequal justice and unequal rewards.”
  • “I want to apologize to the people I’ve disappointed, and I promise that moving forward I will listen, continue to educate myself, and use my privilege in support of the better society I think we’re capable of becoming.”

Did the Veiled Prophet organization say anything?

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Veiled Prophet organization told USA Today that the group is “dedicated to civic progress, economic contributions and charitable causes in St. Louis.”

  • “Our organization believes in and promotes inclusion, diversity and equality for this region,” the statement read, according to USA Today. “We absolutely reject racism and have never partnered or associated with any organization that harbors these beliefs.”
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