Betsy DeVos Booed Mercilessly During HBCU Commencement Speech

 Screenshot via CNN

Screenshot via CNN

By Andrew Pillow

Bethune-Cookman, one of the nation’s most well-known Historically Black Universities, caught a lot of flack when they decided to invite the United States Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos to give the commencement speech at their graduation.

Betsy DeVos is not a very popular person in HBCU circles as of late for a variety of reasons:

Still the President of Bethune – Cookman, Edison O. Jackson, defended his decision in an op-ed to the Orlando Sentinel:

“One of the lasting hallmarks of higher education is its willingness to engage, explore and experience that which we deem as “other.” When we shelter our students and campus communities from views that are diametrically opposed to their own, we actually leave our students far less capable of combating those ideas.” Said Jackson

This did not quell the students or alumni of the school however. A petition was started on to stop the commencement speech. The petition cited that a commencement speech is not the appropriate forum for a cross ideological dialogue. The petition received over 8,000 signatures.

However, Jackson did not rescind the invite and Betsy DeVos still gave the commencement speech. Or at least she attempted to. DeVos was booed from the very start. Many students even turned their backs. At one point President Jackson threatened to mail diplomas home if students were not more respectful. The threat didn’t work, Students actually very noticeably booed louder. 

See the video of the incident below: (via: CNN)


Andrew Pillow

Andrew is a technology teacher at KIPP Indy College Prep. He is graduate of the University of Kentucky and a Teach for America Alum. Andrew just recently finished his commitment as a Teach Plus Policy fellow, and he is looking forward to putting the skills he's learned to good use. Andrew has written for several publications in the past on a wide variety of topics but will be sticking to education for his role on Indy/Ed.