Betsy DeVos booed, some turn backs during B-CU commencement speech

by: WFTV Web Staff, Michael Lopardi Updated:

Loading

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was booed Wednesday afternoon as she took to a podium at Daytona Beach's Ocean Center to deliver Bethune-Cookman University's commencement speech.

Students booed and some turned their backs on DeVos when she received an honorary degree, prompting university president Edison Jackson to say, "You don't know her, nor do you know her story."

© 2017 Cox Media Group.

At least one protester was seen being escorted out of the venue.

Photos: People protest at Bethune-Cookman University

Minutes into DeVos' speech, Jackson stepped up to the podium and told the booing crowd, "If this continues, your degrees will be mailed to you."

Some people were escorted out and the school's president stopped the speech at one point, threatening to withhold degrees if the heckling continued.

“Choose which way you want to go,” said Jackson. 

The booing continued almost nonstop throughout the entire speech. 

Watch the whole speech below: 

“While we will undoubtedly disagree at times, I hope we can do so respectfully,” DeVos said to the crowd. 

In her speech, DeVos offered the President Donald Trump’s administration's support for HBCUs. 

“At first, I did turn my back, but I had to turn back around and realize it’s a respect factor,” said graduate Chata Jacobs. 

During a Wednesday morning news conference, Jackson defended the school's decision to invite DeVos to speak.

"It's important to understand people will disagree," Jackson said. "That does not mean one should roll over and play dead because you disagree."

B-CU: Group opposed to DeVos’ commencement speech submitted 6,000 petitions, not 60,000

Protesters pressured the university to rescind its invitation because of comments DeVos has made suggesting that historically black colleges and universities were "pioneers of school choice." She later acknowledged that the schools originated because of racial segregation.

B-CU administrators said DeVos has devoted her career to promoting educational opportunities, saying that Mary McLeod Bethune, the university's founder, wasn't constrained by political ideology.

The booing reached a fever pitch when DeVos revealed her plans to visit Bethune's home and grave after the speech.

Watch below B-CU president defend Betsy DeVos visit:

© 2017 Cox Media Group.