On Wednesday, Bethune-Cookman University held its commencement ceremony for the class of 2017, and it proved to be one that will go down in the history books.
Weeks ago, the school announced that Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, would be the commencement speaker, and there was immediate backlash with a petition calling for the university to rescind its offer.
In case you aren’t aware, DeVos released a statement a few months back saying HBCUs were created out of “school choice” when in actuality, they were created due to racism from predominately White schools not admitting Black students. Also, the Department of Education tweeted a quote from scholar W.E.B. Du Bois and misspelled his name. So yeah, DeVos is not exactly a favorite.
The university, located in Daytona Beach, Fla., became a social media trending topic when reports got out about students booing and turning their backs on DeVos as she gave her speech.
Something tells us #BethuneCookman grads weren’t too excited to hear #BetsyDeVos commencement speech… 😩😭 https://t.co/HtlxSzvPvD pic.twitter.com/hitBzrJNzT
— KnowYourRightsCamp (@yourrightscamp) May 11, 2017
It got to the point where DeVos’ speech was being drowned out so much by the students’ booing that school President, Edison Jackson, got on the microphone and told the graduates, “If this behavior continues, your degrees will be mailed to you. Choose which way you want to go.”
Holy cow, #bethunecookman dean interrupts DeVos speech, threatens students “your degrees will be mailed to you!” They persist! pic.twitter.com/nkcqZrbXJ0
— Tommy Christopher (@tommyxtopher) May 10, 2017
The biggest chant of boos came when DeVos received an honorary doctorate degree from Bethune-Cookman and said she would pay respects to the university’s founder, Mary McLeod Bethune, by visiting her home and placing a wreath on her grave.
DeVos’ speech lasted 20 minutes and it’s safe to say this will be a commencement Bethune-Cookman won’t soon forget.