For college students, graduation is one of the biggest days of their lives. These students spent the last four years of their life grinding day in and day out for this day, this ceremony, this moment. For them, graduation is where they are commended for their hard work and receive their degrees. And just as important as the degrees they will receive are the words of wisdom they will hear from prominent figures.
But what good are these words of wisdom if they come from someone who practically paid to be in the high position that they’re in now?
For Bethune-Cookman’s class of 2017, they were given these wise words by the controversial Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos…well at least she tried to anyway. With there already being enough anger over her becoming the education secretary with little to no knowledge or experience in education, the last thing she should be doing is giving a commencement speech at a college graduation. With this in mind, BCU’s graduating class welcomed DeVos with a cascade of boos and many of the graduating students turning their backs towards her in protest of her speech. As the boos continue to rain down, the university’s president intervened and threatened to have the student’s degrees mailed to them if the boos continued.
It was like the stars were perfectly aligned for this moment.
This was not just a moment for these graduates, it was a moment for Mary Bethune and her university’s legacy. It was a moment for HBCU students to use their voices to protest a figure that does not have their best interest at heart. It was a moment for African-Americans to stand up against the oppression that this country has put us through and continues to do until this day.
These young men and women stood up against the harm that Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump, and the rest of the Trump administration could inflict upon HBCUs and the rest of the educational system in our country. For DeVos to even be allowed to speak at an HBCU graduation is an insult to the hard work every one of those students put in and to the legacy of Bethune-Cookman University and other HBCUs. And for DeVos to think that HBCUs were created out of school choice shows how little she knows education in this country. The fact that she didn’t know that HBCUs were created due to the fact that African Americans could not attend the same colleges as whites should have automatically disqualified her from speaking at any college graduation, let alone being the education secretary.