The Veiled Prophet Organization has spoken out after Ellie Kemper apologized for participating in the organization’s debutante ball.
In 1999, Kemper was crowned the Queen of Love and Beauty at a ball held by the organization, which barred Black members for over a decade, inducting their first Black member in 1979.
Additionally, the St. Louis-based organization has been criticized for its initial imagery of a “Veiled Prophet,” which is similar in appearance to a Klansman. However, Rolling Stone noted that the ball predates the Ku Klux Klan by several decades.
Photos of Kemper, now 41, participating in the ball recently resurfaced, causing a stir on social media, and after the actress’ public apology, Veiled Prophet has offered a new statement to Fox News.
“Upon reflection, the Veiled Prophet Organization acknowledges our past and recognizes the criticism levied our way. We sincerely apologize for the actions and images from our history,” they said via email on Monday. “Additionally, our lack of cultural awareness was and is wrong. We are committed to change, allowing our actions to match the organization we are today.”
Furthermore, the organization “categorically rejects racism in any form” and is now “committed to diversity and equity in our membership, community service initiatives and support for the region,” according to their statement.
“Our hope is that moving forward, the community sees us for who we are today and together we can move this region forward for everyone,” Veiled Prophet continued. “We are, and always will be committed to the success of the region and making St Louis a better place to live for all.
The statement echoes one from the organization that was given to Fox News last week.
“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,” they said at the time. “We absolutely reject racism and have never associated with any organization that harbors these beliefs.”
Kemper herself also spoke out, recognizing in a statement published on Instagram the organization’s “unquestionably racist, sexist, and elitist past.”
“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,” the actress continued. “At the same time, I acknowledge that because of my race and my privilege, I am the beneficiary of a system that has dispense unequal justice and unequal rewards.”
Fox News’ Melissa Roberto contributed to this report