Betsy DeVos faces hostile college students at Florida commencement today

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos encountered a hostile crowd at Bethune-Cookman University, but she persisted in her commencement address. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

Today, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos gave a commencement speech at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Fla. As the video below shows, DeVos didn’t initially receive a warm reception from students, some of whom turned their backs as she spoke.

DeVos persisted despite the booing and shouting. Her recognition of a few inspiring student stories during her speech eventually quelled most of the protests and led to applause instead.

Bethune-Cookman students had protested the news DeVos would appear at their commencement so she was braced for dissent and addressed critics in the opening of her speech. However, the heckling grew loud enough at one point to provoke Bethune-Cookman President Edison O. Jackson to warn students to cease or their “degrees would be mailed to them.”

 

 

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16 comments
MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

By the way, here is the Florida NAACP statement protesting DeVos' selection as Bethune-Cookman commencement speaker as well as the honorary degree the school gave her. 


“The NAACP Florida State Conference is calling on Bethune Cookman University President Dr. Edison Jackson and Board Chairman Dr. Joe Petrock to resign effective immediately. Since our initial public outcry last week, multiple allegations have surfaced including faculty intimidation demanding their silence or risk termination and threats to students by potentially withholding earned degrees and fines for freedom of expression. If these allegations are proven, this contrasts the public statements of university administration who opposes suppressing voices by welcoming U.S. Education Secretary DeVos but lends indirect support to these actions against faculty and students.


We have been in contact with several attorneys around the state, and have received support from numerous including the T.J. Reddick Bar Association, who has agreed to represent faculty and students who peacefully protest and are subject to retaliation by the university. Our partners have reviewed the university student code of conduct, and it does not contain any prohibition on peaceful protests and freedom of expression. The NAACP Volusia County Daytona Beach Branch and several attorneys will be on the ground monitoring this situation.


We still believe Secretary DeVos should not speak at commencement and that she has no record supporting an honorary degree by Bethune Cookman University. With the recent comments of President Trump suggesting federal funding for HBCU’s is unconstitutional; this validates our view of a horrible decision by the university inviting Secretary DeVos, who still has not pledged to drastically increase funding for all historically black colleges and universities. 


The university leadership has drastically fumbled and should resign” says Adora Obi Nweze, President of NAACP Florida State Conference and member of the National Board of Directors.

Astropig
Astropig

@MaureenDowney


On reflection (and a good cup of coffee),this looks like a victory for Secretary DeVos. Consider:


1) The NAACP did everything in their power to prevent her invitation.They failed.


2) The hecklers and inbred trash that tried to silence her failed.She gave her speech.Interrupted,but completed.The people that tried to silence her failed.


3) The faculty (noted below) tried to maintain their dignity and academic reputation.They looked embarrassed at their students immature behavior.


4) Street protests were barely noted (as far as I could tell) in the media.They got a line or two,but were mostly background noise.


In short-The protesters failed in their objective to silence this lady.They couldn't do it and she delivered her message,which was pretty innocuous,anyway("Best of luck,congratulations"!).


In short-This is a major defeat for the "resistance" and it looks like they know it.They're reduced to calling for B-C's administration to resign over this because they couldn't shut it down.





0.925366723262
0.925366723262

Perhaps the students boycotting the event would have been the better choice. I find DeVos to be uneducated and incompetent.

sneakpeakintoeducation
sneakpeakintoeducation

I am very proud of the young men and women who took a stance against this charlatan. She is neither qualified nor appropriate to be the sec of education. She has done nothing to earn the respect of those she stood in front of. She bought her way into her position by being a huge, tremendous donor to the man who occupies our white house. He, too, is a charlatan.

sneakpeakintoeducation
sneakpeakintoeducation

No on every accusation. We know who you are, though. You have shown your true colors on this blog on many occasions as someone with disdain for minorities and those who you deem unworthy. When someone makes a reasonable comment and you find yourself without a rationale to argue with, you reduce yourself to name calling and negative comments. We know you are; either Glen Delk or yoi work for him in the promotion of the charter industry. You are the paid shill for an industry that seeks to enrich itself off the backs of the children you make extremely concerning remarks about.

AlreadySheared
AlreadySheared

Supposedly educated young adults who need to be upbraided as though they were rowdy middle or high school students at an assembly.

How sad.  How embarrassing for Bethune-Cookman. What a black eye for those graduates when they go out into the world and attempt to use their college credentials to get jobs.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

Bethune-Cookman University is an HBCU.  I would guess that some of her reception was due to Trump's comments about HBCUs, for she is his representative in Education.

AzaleaAnnie
AzaleaAnnie

@OriginalProf "I would guess"........that the sheep who misbehaved at Bethune-Cookman were encouraged by the Democrats who are organizing protests all over the country.  The protests being organized are an embarrassment to the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. whose protests were peaceful, whose protesters were well-behaved.


I would also "guess" that the ill-mannered protesters at Bethune-Cookman do not fit the definition of the Talented Tenth.  "Just about everybody who knows anything about black history and/or Dr. W. E. B. DuBois knows that one of the most important concepts of the many that he defined was "the Talented Tenth". 


Quote from Professor Henry Louis Gates.   

Ralph-43
Ralph-43

Why was the incompetent public school drop out even invited?  How about a Nobel Laureate or a published author?  DeVos is an embarrassment attempting to block access to education for non-Whites.  Foolish to let her promote racism and the continuation of isolation of Blacks in educational formats like this college.  The students understood that better than the President who thought he would get a small financial tip.

AzaleaAnnie
AzaleaAnnie

@Ralph-43 Perhaps Ms. DeVos continues the steps made after the Civil War, in which white men fought and died so black men and women could be free.  


And perhaps she continues the steps taken during the 1960s when white men and women marched with Martin Luther King Jr. so that black men and women could fully join in the benefits of American citizenship.  And perhaps one or two of the misbehaving students knows that there were white men and women who died while working to organize votes in Mississippi.  Among the murdered were Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman and James Chaney.  Schwerner and Goodman were white, Jewish, and Chaney was black and Christian.  


Are these facts taught in history today?  That white men and women marched, and provided financial support?  That perhaps more than 50% of the whites who did both march and provide cash for traveling and food and lodging for blacks and whites during the 1960's were Jewish?  


What are the young being taught - and by whom are they being taught?  



Astropig
Astropig

Kudos to the faculty members that maintained their dignity and decorum while their students were showing what a lack of class that they possess.It must have been humiliating to sit on that stage and watch an invited guest be treated in such a manner. If any of my kids ever acted that way toward a public servant at such a ceremonial occasion,I'd never forgive them and never let them live it down.

DrProudBlackMan
DrProudBlackMan

@Astropig So the kids liking nooses drawn on black students get a pass but students exercising their first amendment rights cause you extreme butt hurt? You sir are a deplorable hypocrite.

Chuck McComb
Chuck McComb

@Astropig Quite frankly, I would have been humiliated after the focused pursuit which lead to this accomplishment was acknowledged by this poor choice of speakers. Perhaps the class act would have been for her to decline the invitation.