The students of Bethune-Cookman University were outraged by the presence of Betsy DeVos, secretary of education and they went to great lengths to prevent her from speaking at their graduation. Other students addressed their issues through petitions protesting the invitation extended to DeVos.
Although the booing from more than 200 graduating students was not a respectful, appropriate approach, it is understandable that they wanted to be heard during this one-sided presentation. DeVos has made several questionable remarks about historically black colleges and universities, HBCUs, conveying that she believes that they are useful to the African American community as a first-choice institution because they provide plentiful opportunities.
DeVos is oblivious to the fact that HBCUs were not created to devalue the educational success of black people, yet, they were built in response to African Americans being prohibited from entering white institutions. Bethune-Cookman’s President Edison Jackson had great intentions in networking to attract the opportunities available to the institution. But if he wanted to advance the students’ understanding for dealing with opposing beliefs he should have done so on a different day.
Alexis Demps, Homestead