Betsy DeVos Booed During Commencement Speech, Grads Turn Backs

Students at a university in Florida booed and jeered Education Secretary Betsy DeVos as she tried to speak during their graduation ceremony Wednesday. Some even stood with their backs to her, fists raised in the air as she continued her speech.

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

"While we may share differing points of view, my visit and dialogue with student leaves me encouraged and committed to supporting [historically black colleges and universities]", the Education Secretary added.

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.

She then went on to reiterate her support of HBCUs by saying, "please know that we support you and we will continue to support you".

Numerous standing graduates took their seats, but a few remained standing, prompting Jackson to implore them again to sit down. Many students were already vocally against DeVos giving the speech anyway.

And early in the year, Robert, she had to walk back when she said, quote, "HBCUs were real pioneers when it comes to school choice". One sign said "DeVos is not worthy". "Betsy DeVos should not be the speaker at any educational institution", Rachel Gilmer, co-director of Dream Defenders. Your job is to do research.

Some see this as her ignoring the problems of the United States public education system she is tasked with leading.

Peaceful protests against DeVos' appearance began last week, with demonstrators holding placards that read "DeVos No" and "Our tax $s pay for public education".

Outside the event, some students and alumni gathered to protest against DeVos. In other words, they weren't providing better options - they were the only options for black students.

"Bethune-Cookman University doesn't need a photo op from the Trump administration, we need action done by this administration for all HBCUs".

"I'm a student, I'm about to be a junior at Bethune-Cookman", said Bobby Luke. The university, however, refused proposals to disinvite DeVos.

"Similar qualities - they're both female, but that's pretty much all I can think of", she said. Jackson gave the students their first admonition.

"They are just not going to go", Pantore said.

B-CU President Edison Jackson attempted to gain some control of the situation by briefly taking the mic away from DeVos and issuing a threat to his students.

Jackson had been accused of selling out the school by inviting DeVos.

DeVos used the speech as an opportunity to reaffirm the Trump administration's commitment to HBCUs.

Vanessa Coleman

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