(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Betsy DeVos, Omarosa Manigault booed at Bethune-Cookman University

Large segments of the historically black school's student body greeted the Trump advisers with disdain


Matthew Rozsa
May 10, 2017 10:43PM (UTC)

Both Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and President Donald Trump's adviser Omarosa Manigault were met with a chorus of boos by students at Bethune-Cookman University, a historically black university in Florida.

DeVos — who has both been accused of racism and accused her critics of racism — was roundly booed when university president Edison Jackson introduced her to give her an honorary doctorate, according to a report by The New York Times. Roughly half of the graduates turned their backs on her and many shouted over DeVos while the cabinet member criticized their dissent by claiming they should try to learn from individuals with whom they disagree.

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"I am at the table fighting on your behalf," DeVos told the students.

When the university first announced that it had asked DeVos to deliver the speech, the student body erupted in outrage. Protest petitions quickly accumulated thousands of signatures and many called on President Jackson to resign. The anger wasn't just because of DeVos' association with Trump, but also because she had previously referred to historically black colleges as "real pioneers when it comes to school choice."

Historically black colleges — known as HBCUs — were founded because segregation prevented African-American students from receiving an education anywhere else.

During DeVos' speech, Jackson told the booing students that if they didn't stop, "your degrees will be mailed to you. Choose which way you want to go."

Students also booed when Jackson introduced Omarosa Manigault earlier in the ceremony, prompting Jackson to scold the students by saying, "You don’t know her. You don’t know her story."

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Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a breaking news writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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