During a university commencement speech on Wednesday, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos received a cold reception as hundreds of graduating students stood up and turned their backs to her while booing throughout her speech. Trump adviser and former contestant on NBC’s “The Apprentice,” Omarosa Manigault also received boos from the students in protest against the Trump administration.
While attending the graduation ceremony at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Director of Communications for the Office of Public Liaison Omarosa Manigault briefly stood up on stage when hundreds of students began booing and shouting in disgust. In Omarosa’s defense, university President Edison Jackson rebutted, “You don’t know her. And nor do you know her story.”
As Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos approached the podium to deliver her commencement address, approximately half of the graduating class immediately stood up to turn their backs to her while booing her speech. The crowd could also be heard cheering at one point after a man reportedly pumped his fist in the air as security escorted him out of the building.
Less than three minutes into DeVos’ speech, Jackson interrupted her to issue a warning to the dissenting students. Jackson threatened, “If this behavior continues, your degrees will be mailed to you. Choose which way you want to go.”
Although DeVos promised to support federal funding and continue providing grants for university students, most of the audience clearly did not believe her. Due to Trump’s recent budget proposal and DeVos’ blatant incompetence, the graduating seniors viewed the presence of Trump’s lackeys at a historically black university as a mere public relations stunt.
As DeVos informed the audience that she planned to visit the gravesite of the school’s founder, Mary McLeod Bethune, to pay her respects, the entire room exploded in boos and screams of “No!” Born in 1875, Bethune was a civil rights activist who opened the Daytona Literary and Industrial Training School for Negro Girls in 1904.
While quoting from Bethune’s last will and testament, DeVos’ words rang hollow in the ears of the students who appeared to have no faith in the Trump administration.
“She concluded with a section titled ‘A Responsibility to Our Young People’ and make clear her unshakable belief that the world’s fate belong to the youth she dedicated her entire life to serving,” DeVos addressed the protesting students. Although Bethune had spent her life serving those less fortunate, DeVos was only nominated for Education Secretary because her family has contributed millions of dollars to GOP candidates and Super PACs.
Married to Dick DeVos, Betsy is the daughter-in-law of Richard DeVos Sr., the founder of Amway, a cosmetic retailer repeatedly accused of operating as a pyramid scheme. Her brother, Erik Prince, is notorious for founding the mercenary group Blackwater, which was responsible for murdering innocent civilians in Iraq.
On February 10, several demonstrators blocked DeVos from entering a DC public school in protest against the unqualified GOP campaign donor. Instead of meeting with the citizens and directly addressing their concerns, DeVos immediately fled into an SUV and drove away.
Three days later, DeVos’ security team, which had been comprised mostly of department employees and former Secret Service agents, were replaced by a security detail provided by the U.S. Marshals Service. According to a department spokesman who spoke on the condition of anonymity, DeVos’ new security detail will cost $7.78 million to pay for their services from mid-February through September.
Last month, DeVos fled into an elevator packed with law enforcement officers after a protester at Miami’s Florida International University recorded a video questioning her brother’s recently exposed involvement with the Trump campaign and foreign officials.
“I was in shock,” graduating student Jasmine Johnson told The Washington Post shortly after DeVos’ commencement address. Concerned about Trump’s financial policies and her own student loans, Johnson explained, “For someone to come and speak at my commencement that cannot relate to me or know what I have been through is kind of like a slap in the face.”