Published: Thu, May 11, 2017
USA | By Kelli Rowe

Bethune-Cookman grads boo Betsy DeVos at commencement

Bethune-Cookman grads boo Betsy DeVos at commencement

"Do not use Bethune-Cookman as a photo op", Dominik Whitehead, who graduated from the school in 2010 and who started the petition, told the Washington Post.

The historically black university in Daytona Beach, Florida, is at the center of criticism for providing a platform to the secretary to speak. During the February gathering of HBCU leaders at the White House, she described historically black institutions as "pioneers of school choice", dismissing the fact that such schools were founded because blacks often weren't allowed in colleges due to segregation.

In a statement on Sunday, President Donald Trump said DeVos chose Bethune-Cookman for her first commencement address as education secretary to show the Republican administration's dedication to the mission of historically black colleges and universities.

"If this behavior continues, your degrees will be mailed to you", Jackson threatened.

But the boos became an uproar when DeVos said she would visit the grave of the school's founder.

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) - Education Secretary Betsy Devos vowed support for the students at a historically black university at their graduation ceremony, but was almost drowned out by booing and shouts of "Liar!"

Reporters on scene provided live updates from DeVos' speech, which was met with cries of "Go home!" and included an admonishment from the school's president, according to Business Insider. "They said that this wasn't a dialogue, it was more of a monologue".

DeVos has continued since then to cite historically black colleges as alternative options for quality education, her stated goal for promoting the diversion of tax money to private and charter schools.

A group of students stand and turn their backs during a commencement exercise speech by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos at Bethune-Cookman University, Wednesday, May 10, 2017, in Daytona Beach, Fla.

The education secretary said it's likely because people are afraid of change. Please know this: We support you, and we will continue to support you.

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In her speech, DeVos praised Bethune-Cookman for providing the means to help its students overcome adversity and serve others.

"I believe (graduates) deserve a speaker who could relate to them as far as the struggle we go through within the education system, and I feel like she cannot relate in that aspect", Smith said.

Asked about a university news release that compared DeVos to the school's founder - saying they both appreciated "the importance of opportunity and hope for students to receive an exceptional education experience" - Smith smirked.

Despite Jackson's remarks, students still protested and DeVos stuck to her prepared speech. Activists gathered outside, one carrying a sign that said "DeVos is not worthy".

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