Betsy DeVos loudly booed during commencement speech at historically black college

But many attendees Wednesday had already made up their minds about DeVos, whose appearance was condemned by the Florida chapter of the NAACP "based on her disgusting public education record impacting blacks and minorities in Florida and around the country", as Politico reported.

Online petitions managed to collect signatures from about 60,000 people who don't.

Jackson, an African-American and a Republican, and some others defended the choice of DeVos as the graduation speaker for the school, which was named for black educator and civil rights activist Mary McLeod Bethune.

DeVos said the Trump administration is fully committed to the students' success.

DeVos later amended her comments in a series of tweets the next day, reflecting the importance of the institutions. Ms DeVos later recanted her statement.

Those in attendance today weren't trying to hear it, nor were they trying to hear anything DeVos had to say. At times her remarks were drowned out by hecklers. "To lead a new era of engagement in our communities." she said "I am humbled by the opportunity to be here with you".

This episode comes just days after DeVos' boss, President Donald Trump, said that funding for historically black colleges maybe unconstitutional.

As the crowd kept trying to shout her down, university president Edison Jackson briefly took over the microphone to lecture the students before she continued.

While receiving an honorary doctorate at Bethune-Cookman University's commencement, DeVos took to the podium to speak with students about respecting diverse opinions. Students have been protesting en masse and B-CU graduate Dominik Whitehead even started a petition to prevent DeVos from attending.

But he said "Bethune-Cookman University can't do it alone". And while we will undoubtedly disagree at times, I hope we can do so respectfully.

As DeVos began to speak at the ceremony, students stood up from their seats and turned their backs on the education secretary. Is there more DeVos can do to win the support of HBCUs? Numerous graduating students turned their backs physically to DeVos as well in protest, with things getting so raucous at one point that Jackson interrupted her to warn students that if they continued, "degrees will be mailed" to them instead.

CORRECTS SPELLING OF FIRST NAME TO BETSY, NOT BESTY - United States Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos delivers a commencement speech to graduates at Bethune-Cookman University, Wednesday, May 10, 2017, in Daytona Beach, Fla.

Graduates were seen turning their backs while DeVos gave the commencement speech.

  • Larry Hoffman