Twenty-two years ago, actress Ellie Kemper was 19 years old and she had just been crowned the 1999 Queen of Love and Beauty at St. Louis’s Veiled Prophet Ball. However, it has recently come to people’s attention that the pageant has a rather upsetting history, according to a 2014 article by The Atlantic.
According to The Atlantic and historian Thomas Spencer, the primary goal of Veiled Prophet events “was to take back the public stage from populist demands for social and economic justice.” And while “only two Veiled Prophets have had their identity revealed” to the public, The Atlantic reported that “the image of the first Veiled Prophet is armed with a shotgun and pistol and is strikingly similar in appearance to a Klansman,” adding that this only added to the “message of class and race hegemony.”
It was further reported that the event’s organizers “emphasized the existing power structure” and banned Black and Jewish members.
Now, because of the history the St. Louis’s Veiled Prophet holds, people are very upset that Ellie Kemper was once linked to such a group.
Along with a newspaper photo of Ellie Kemper at the pageant, a twitter user wrote, “So was no one gonna tell me Ellie Kemper, AKA Kimmy Schmidt, was crowned KKK queen in 1999?” The photo showed Kemper in a white dress and white gloves talking with two younger girls.
The star of Netflix’s The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt was a student at Princeton when she was crowned the ball’s 105th queen. However, despite The Atlantic’s report of images tied to the Veiled Prophet and this particular tweet, the Veiled Prophet Ball has no reported ties to the KKK, The Wrap reported.
And other people were quick to defend Kemper as well. One of those people was Ben Shapiro, who is known for his blunt conservative political commentary.
On Twitter, Shapiro wrote, “There is not a single iota of evidence that Ellie Kemper is racist. So naturally, Twitter is trending her and blue checks are calling her a ‘KKK princess.’ What absolute garbage.”
According to St. Louis.gov, the first ‘VP Queen’ was crowned in 1878:
“Created in 1878 by white male community leaders, the Mystic Order of the Veiled Prophet of the Enchanted Realm sought to recreate the Mardi Gras type of community-wide celebration. This gala came to include pageantry, costumes, and a parade with floats. It officially unveiled its first “Queen of Love and Beauty,” or the VP Queen, and the Veiled Prophet Ball in 1878. The VP Fair on the riverfront started in 1979 and became Fair St. Louis in 1995. The traditional VP celebration has represented for St. Louisans a perceived link between different components of the community in a holiday celebration, while also reinforcing the notion of a benevolent cultural elite.”
Ellie Kemper is a mom of two and married to Michael Koman, who is Jewish. She has not personally commented on the news for which she was trending. It’s unclear if she will or ever has talked about this moment in her past.
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