Why Betsy DeVos was booed, heckled at black college commencement

While receiving an honorary doctorate at Bethune-Cookman University's commencement, DeVos took to the podium to speak with students about respecting diverse opinions.

"While we will undoubtedly disagree at times, I hope we can do so respectfully", DeVos said to open her speech.

In the end, though, the boos gradually subsided and DeVos concluded her prepared remarks - though not before she delivered a few more pointed comments on difference and understanding.

There was no chance that was going to happen in 2017.

DeVos sought to underscore the Trump administration's commitment to historically black colleges and universities, known as HBCUs, telling her audience: "I am at the table fighting on your behalf". "If this behavior continues, we can mail the degrees to you", he said, Florida Today reported.

It's been about a week and a half since Bethune-Cookman University announced that Betsy DeVos would be delivering the historically black college's commencement speech.

DeVos has spent the last few weeks touring schools across America and as recently as Sunday she expressed support for historically black colleges and universities.

Alumni Shakindra Johnson and Neema Ramsay said it should have been a proud day for the students and their families, but instead, DeVos seemed to be trying to appropriate the legacy of the school's founder.

"I'm a student, I'm about to be a junior at Bethune-Cookman", said Bobby Luke.

Some alumni and African-American leaders called the invitation a misguided effort to secure more funding. The NAACP Florida State Conference called on Jackson to resign and a petition had been filed with Change.org when the secretary had been invited to speak. But within minutes of speaking, DeVos was booed furiously by graduates and attendees of the commencement ceremony. Before the address, activists lined a sidewalk. The decision to have DeVos address the some-300 students graduating this spring came immediate under scrutiny. "We need everyone to be a part of this continuation of our institution".

Was the booing and the protests against DeVos warranted at the graduation ceremony?

At some point, when DeVos takes a pause, the president of the university, Edison Jackson, takes the microphone and appears to search for a threat he can viably make to a roomful of people who already finished their degrees.

Trump released another statement Sunday in which he promised "unwavering support" for the nation's HBCUs.

  • Zachary Reyes