Bethune-Cookman graduates turn their backs on Education Secretary Betsy DeVos (at podium) as captured in this screenshot while she delivers a commencement address amid boos from attendees.

DeVos Booed at HBCU Graduation

Boos and jeers from graduating seniors greeted billionaire U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos as she began her commencement address Wednesday at Bethune-Cookman University.

The graduating class also turned their backs in protest against someone they believe has insulted the Black community and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

“One of the hallmarks of higher education and of democracy is the ability to converse with and learn from those with whom we disagree,” DeVos told graduates of the historically Black university in Daytona Beach, Fla.

As boos toward the education secretary grew louder, the university’s president, Edison Jackson, interrupted her speech with a warning to the approximately 300 graduating students.

“If this behavior continues, your degrees will be mailed to you,” he said. “Choose which way you want to go.”

Nevertheless, many students persisted.

Jackson invited DeVos to speak at the graduation ceremony. In an opinion piece for the Orlando Sentinel published May 3, the college president said he did not object to inviting a potentially controversial speaker.

“I am of the belief that it does not benefit our students to suppress voices that we disagree with, or to limit students to only those perspectives that are broadly sanctioned by a specific community,” Jackson wrote.

Students, alumni and political activists sought to have DeVos’ invitation withdrawn, saying they were offended by her earlier comments. In February, the education secretary, a proponent of school choice, sparked controversy when she said, in a now-recanted statement, that HBCUs were “pioneers” of educational choice.

“HBCUs are real pioneers when it comes to school choice,” DeVos said. “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.”

Supporters of HBCUs noted that the institutions were founded because Black students couldn’t enroll in predominantly white colleges in the South, even public institutions. African Americans had no choice but to create colleges and universities. DeVos later clarified her remarks.

President Donald Trump said in a statement on Sunday that DeVos chose Bethune-Cookman for her first commencement address as education secretary to show the Republican administration’s dedication to the mission of HBCUs.

However, during the same weekend, a statement was released from the White House implying that some financial programs for HBCUs may be unconstitutional.

About 60,000 signatures on two petitions were delivered to school officials on Tuesday objecting to DeVos’ appearance at the university, which was named for Black educator and civil rights activist Mary McLeod Bethune.

According to CNN, “a university official, who asked not to be named because he didn’t want to steal the spotlight from the university’s president, said 6,000 of the petitions were properly filled out, and of those, the majority came from outside the campus and Daytona Beach.”

During her commencement speech, DeVos said she was there to reaffirm the Trump administration’s commitment to HBCUs.

“While we will undoubtedly disagree at times I hope we can do so respectfully,” she said. “Let’s choose to hear one another out. I want to reaffirm this administration’s commitment to and support for [historically Black colleges and universities] and the students they serve.”

Boos also broke out when DeVos was awarded an honorary doctorate and when she said she would visit the home of Bethune to pay her respects.

Sean P. Jackson, chairman of the Black Republican Caucus of Florida, said DeVos had long been a champion of providing strong education opportunities for minority students, according to Reuters.

“The secretary says we should allow charter schools to come in and educate children if they are doing a better job than the public schools,” Jackson said on Tuesday.

Devos wasn’t the only member of the Trump administration that was booed on Wednesday. Presidential aide Omarosa Manigault was also in attendance.Manigaultreceived a similar response when her name was announced.

Read more news @

Latest News

California, board, corporate, directors

California Bill Would Mandate Racial Diversity on Corporate Boards

A recent California bill would mandate diversity in corporate boards for all companies headquartered within the state. The bill would ban all-white corporate boards and comes on the heels of a 2018 law that mandated women hold seats in all corporate boards. This racial diversity bill AB 979 defines “underrepresented…


Humana Reports Second Quarter 2020 Financial Results; Continues Proactive Relief Efforts Amid Pandemic

Originally posted on  Ongoing actions to support its members, providers, employees, and communities during the COVID-19 pandemic, including the donation of an additional $150 million to the Humana Foundation to address social determinants of health in an effort to promote more healthy days and encourage greater health equity Reports…

BASF South East Asia joins ZDHC Foundation to Scale up Sustainability in the Leather, Textile, and Footwear Industry

Originally published on BASF South East Asia now a “Contributor” in the Chemical Industry category of the ZDHC Foundation to help develop and implement chemical guidelines and solutions Haptex, BASF’s innovative polyurethane solution for synthetic leather, now certified ECO PASSPORT by OEKO-TEX® BASF South East Asia has joined the ZDHC…

AT&T Summer Camp

Originally published on Welcome to AT&T Summer Camp For kids across the country, summer camp is something to look forward to all year long. It’s a time when they connect with friends, try new things, discover untapped talents and grow as individuals. This summer, we’re reimagining the summer camp…

Southern Company: Low-Income Natural Gas Customers to Receive $1 Million in Energy Assistance Support from Atlanta Gas Light

Originally published on Under a mechanism created by the Georgia Public Service Commission last year, Atlanta Gas Light is allocating $1 million for supplemental low-income energy assistance, which will be distributed to qualifying agencies that support customers who need help paying natural gas bills, repairing or replacing natural gas appliances…