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American actress Ellie Kemper apologizes for taking part in ‘racist, sexist and elitist’ ball in Missouri more than 20 years ago

American actress Ellie Kemper apologizes for taking part in ‘racist, sexist and elitist’ ball in Missouri more than 20 years ago
Ellie Kemper has apologized on Instagram after pictures emerged of her crowned a “queen of love and beauty” at the 1999 Veiled Prophet Ball hosted by an organization founded and run for decades by wealthy white families.

Last week, the star of The Office, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, came under fire when photos emerged of her – 19 at the time and a student at Princeton University – being crowned the ‘Queen of Love and Beauty’ at the Veiled Prophet Ball, now called the Fair Saint Louis, in 1999.

She went on to say that she “unequivocally” deplored, denounced and rejected white supremacy and went on to say that, because of her “race and privilege,” she had benefited from what she described as an unequal system.

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The Veiled Prophet Organization – which describes itself as civic and philanthropic – was founded in 1878 by a former Confederate officer and other prominent white St. Louisans and only permitted white people to participate up until 1979. 

It holds a debutante ball each year in St. Louis, Missouri, where one member of the organization is chosen as the ‘Veiled Prophet’ to preside over the ball and pick the ‘Queen of Love and Beauty’ from among the gala attendees. Kemper – who comes from a Missouri family that includes bankers and business leaders – was a suitable candidate to become queen of the Veiled Prophet Ball.

Amid the backlash, the Veiled Prophet Organization issued a statement to People Magazine, rejecting the allegations of racism and elitism, and saying it “promotes inclusion, diversity and equality” in the region. The organization added that it acknowledges its past and sincerely apologizes for the “actions and images” from its history, admitting that its “lack of cultural awareness was and is wrong.” 

After the photos emerged of Kemper at the 1999 ceremony, users on Twitter accused her of racism, some going as far as to call her a “KKK beauty queen,” referring to images of members wearing white clothes, white also having been the color of costume worn by the American white supremacist group the Ku Klux Klan.

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