DeVos Greeted With Boos At College Commencement

Betsy DeVos

About half the 380 students graduating in the ceremony stood and turned their backs to DeVos, and others heckled her loudly as she spoke, CNN reported.

Students and alumni began voicing their displeasure as soon as DeVos was announced as the Daytona Beach, Florida, school's commencement speaker, on May 1. Though the protest at the graduation may be the first most of us have heard about this event, it turns out that students and alumni at Bethune University had been trying to keep DeVos away from graduates' big day for quite some time. "Your degrees will be mailed to you. Your job is to be committed to academia and know exactly what you're talking about. what context you're saying it in", said Bethune-Cookman University graduate Fedrick Ingram, vice president of the Florida Education Association. During her speech, the U.S. Secretary of Education voiced commitment to HBCU's and the communities they serve, but under the barrage of boos her statements were hard to decipher. That gives us profound understanding of the thousands of petitions signed calling for Jackson's resignation. University president Edison O. Jackson tried to calm the protesters down, threatening to withhold their degrees and instead send the certificates in the mail, but the backlash continued, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.

"I'm protesting because she will continue to directly affect me after this and make it harder for me to get to graduation", said one of the protesters.

"We have always been in the business of making friends, and if you don't have friends, it's very hard to raise money", he said during a news conference before the noon ceremony.

While receiving an honorary doctorate at Bethune-Cookman University's commencement, DeVos took to the podium to speak with students about respecting diverse opinions. She later acknowledged that the schools originated because of racial segregation. "Why wouldn't we want to do that?"

President Trump added further strain last week when he suggested that HBCUs are unconstitutional, which he later walked back.

DeVos alienated many African-Americans in February when she described historically black colleges as "real pioneers when it comes to school choice". "Ladies and gentleman, please, you don't know her, nor do you know her story", Jackson responded. Jacari Harris, a junior and former student body president, told the Washington Post that the education secretary was "awesome".

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