Bethune-Cookman Graduates Rightfully Turned Their Backs On Betsy DeVos
By:     -   May 11, 2017   -   Education   -   Comments are closed   -   400 Views

Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, had no damn business being invited to deliver the commencement speech at Bethune-Cookman University – an HBCU.

Every outraged administrator, graduate and parent were warranted in being entirely pissed off. Under DeVos, Bethune-Cookman graduates will have an even tougher time paying back their student loans, given that she halted an Obama-era program intended to assist students in managing federal college loans. Further, her appearance was also controversial due to remarks she made calling HBCUs “pioneers of school choice” – when in fact, HBCUs were created because black students could not attend white schools.

Here was the statement:

They started from the fact that there were too many students in America who did not have equal access to education. 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. HBCUs are real pioneers when it comes to school choice. They are living proof that when more options are provided to students, they are afforded greater access and greater quality. Their success has shown that more options help students flourish.



“Betsy DeVos should not be speaking at an HBCU. Betsy DeVos should not be the speaker at any educational institution.” -Rachel Gilmer, Co-director of Dream Defenders

DeVos struggled to deliver her 20-minute commencement address, at which time she also accepted an honorary degree The crowd drowned out her words with overwhelming boos. At one point, university President Edison Jackson intervened to warn students, “If this behavior continues, we can mail the degrees to you.”


Protests were also held outside the ceremony by NAACP representatives, the national teachers unions and a host of other organizations. Perhaps the most stand-out form of protest was the graduates literally turning their backs on DeVos as she spoke. It’s so unfortunate that their petition to disinvite DeVos was ignored.

Why do we keep inviting people into our spaces who could care less about us?