Last week photos surfaced of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt star Ellie Kemper participating in the Fair Saint Louis (formerly known as the Veiled Prophet Ball) where she was crowned “Queen of Love and Beauty” in 1999 in Missouri. Pictures surfaced on Twitter of a newspaper article written about Kemper winning the title at the time, sparking controversy among fans.

The Veiled Prophet Organization was founded in 1878 by former Confederate officers including Charles Slayback. The elitist organization only allowed white people to participate up until 1979.

On Monday the former The Office star took to Instagram to speak about the backlash she received.

“When I was 19 years old, I decided to participate in a debutante ball in my hometown,” Kemper stated.”The century-old organization that hosted the debutante ball had an unquestionably racist, sexist and elitist past. I was not aware of the history at the time, but ignorance is no excuse. I was old enough to have educated myself before getting involved.”

She went further to denounce the organization. “I unequivocally deplore, denounce, and reject white supremacy,” she added. “At the same time, I acknowledge that because of my race and my privilege, I am the beneficiary of a system that has dispensed unequal justice and unequal rewards.”

Kemper went on to emphasize her remorse and the values she instills in her own life.

“I believe strongly in the values of kindness, integrity and inclusiveness. I try to live my life in accordance with these values,” she added. “If my experience is an indication that organizations and institutions with pasts that fall short of these beliefs should be held to account, then I have to see this experience in a positive light.”

Kemper wrapped up the post with an apology. “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. Thanks for reading this.”

Her The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt co-star Tituss Burrgess reposted Kemper’s statement on Instagram adding, “I love my Ellie ❤️.”

The Veiled Prophet Organization released a statement apologizing for the organization’s past, rejecting any form of racism:

“The VP Organization of today categorically rejects racism, in any form. Today’s VP is committed to diversity and equity in our membership, community service initiatives and support for the region. 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. We are, and always will be committed to the success of the region and making St Louis a better place to live for all.”

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