The Bethune-Cookman Class of 2017 stood up literally in a unified act of protest against the Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos.
The school leaders who got behind this decision didn't expect backlash and are looking incredibly foolish and out-of-touch right now. On Tuesday, students delivered over 50,000 signatures to school leaders to protest DeVos giving the commencement speech at their school - clearly it was ignored.
This comes at a time when Donald Trump has openly questioned the constitutionality of historically-black colleges and universities - which he walked back a few days later. Point is, this White House can't be trusted on the issue of HBCU's which historically haven't received all of the resources they needed to compete with anyway. Some HBCU's have stood out, but many haven't been as fortunate. At least 11 HBCU's have been forced into closure and as of 2015, 15 are struggling to stay open. Gutting HBCU funding would have a devastating impact across the board.
A powerful message can be sent if similar acts of free speech were utilized in the future wherever Betsy DeVos goes. This is especially true if it happens to be a struggling historically black college. A message also needs to be sent to these university leaders that this is not looked upon positively by the student body.
Then to make matters worse, the President of Bethune-Cookman, Dr. Edison O. Jackson, politely interrupted Betsy DeVos and made a complete fool of himself. He said, "If this behavior continues, your degrees will be mailed to you." I can't stop laughing at this weak, empty threat. If I were in that crowd, my degree would've been mailed to me. Actually, the degrees are often times mailed anyway - which makes this an even more laughable attempt at silencing free speech.