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Students Loudly Boo, Turn Backs As Betsy DeVos Delivers Commencement Speech At Historically Black College

DEMOCRACY

Students Loudly Boo, Turn Backs As Betsy DeVos Delivers Commencement Speech At Historically Black College

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos was met with protests, turned backs, and rounds of loud boos on Wednesday while giving a commencement speech at Bethune-Cookman University, a historically black college in Daytona Beach, Florida.


DeVos was selected to speak at the historically black university, despite strong opposition by many students and community members.

Students criticized the school for selecting DeVos after she downplayed the role of racism in the creation of historically black colleges and universities.




She praised HBCUs as “real pioneers when it comes to school choice” after meeting with school leaders in February.

“They saw that the system wasn’t working, that there was an absence of opportunity, so they took it upon themselves to provide the solution,” she said in a statement.

The comment sparked immediate backlash for “whitewashing” the history of the institutions, formed in response to systemic discrimination that denied black students access to existing schools. DeVos later said that HBCUs were born “out of necessity, in the face of racism.” On Sunday, she issued a statement saying she was looking forward to the

On Sunday, she issued a statement saying she was looking forward to the commencement while reiterating her “support for HBCUs.”

“For someone to come and speak at my commencement that cannot relate to me or know what I have been through is kind of like a slap in the face,” graduating student Jasmine Johnson told the Washington Post.




Twitter wasn’t having it either:

Protesters on Tuesday delivered petitions to the school’s leaders, calling on them to cancel DeVos’ speech due to her ignorance of HBCUs and lack of support for student loan borrowers. Organizers said they had collected 50,000 signatures.

The anti-DeVos petition described her invitation as an “insult” to Bethune’s legacy, and the NAACP Florida State Conference called on Jackson and University Board Chairman Joe Petrock to resign this week amid allegations that the school threatened to punish faculty and students who protested DeVos.

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