Betsy DeVos

But Why Have Betsy DeVos (of All People) Speak at Bethune-Cookman’s Commencement?

[Opinion] Education Secretary Betsy DeVos will be delivering the keynote address at the 2017 Bethune-Cookman commencement, but the very notion evokes a side-eye

Betsy DeVos

Photo Credit: Getty

Since her appointment as Secretary of Education in the Trump administration, the evidence that perhaps Betsy DeVos is not the best person to steward the future of America’s youth has been apparent.  After all, it was only a few short months ago when the Department of Education, which she runs, misspelled the name of NAACP co-founder W.E.B. Du Bois in a tweet. Then to make matters worse, they also misspelled the subsequent apology.

And let’s not forget the gaffe that she had to walk back in which she called HBCUs “real pioneers” of school choice.



It’s incidents like that, in addition to the fact that she has been particularly unpopular in the position, that would make it seemingly clear you don’t want DeVos anywhere near your school, especially a Black one.  But it seems, Bethune-Cookman University, a historically Black college, did not get that memo.

The university, founded by civil rights activist and educator Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, announced this week that Secretary DeVos would be the keynote speaker for the spring 2017 commencement on May 1oth.

You heard that right.  The woman who couldn’t be bothered to correctly spell the name of one Black America’s most notable leaders, will be speaking to Black students, as they prepare to head off into the world.

Despite there being an abundance of people Bethune-Cookman could’ve chosen, the university’s president, Dr. Edison O. Jackson feels that DeVos has something in common with the school’s illustrious founder.

“Bethune-Cookman University is a school built on the legacy and the transformation of students. Dr. Bethune’s love for students started with five little girls and grew to over 250 students during her time as university president.” “The legacy of Dr. Bethune is that she was not constrained by political ideology, but worked across all parties to support B-CU,” he explained.

Perhaps what Jackson really meant to say was that he was trying to play nice with the nice woman who gives his university money.  In the announcement posted to the Bethune-Cookman website the school states that the Department of Education’s funding is important to its students.

“Students are directly impacted by funding dollars that are dispersed through the Department of Education. B-CU receives $4 million annually through Title III, which supports teaching, research and infrastructure. Additionally, Title IV impacts the ability of B-CU students to receive federal financial aid, overall influencing the ascension of Bethune-Cookman University students,” the statement reads.

Looks like at Bethune-Cookman money talks, and come May 10th at noon, so will DeVos.  It will be interesting to hear what message of hope she gives the 2017 graduating class.

 





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