Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos was booed Wednesday as she delivered the commencement speech at Bethune-Cookman University.
Since the historically black Florida university announced the politician as this year’s graduation speaker, many have questioned the school’s decision on social media and beyond, accusing DeVos of undermining HBCUs.
Despite the outcry, she remained on the program, and opposers continued to protest before and during Wednesday’s ceremony.
When DeVos was presented with her honorary degree, audience members jeered, and as she began her remarks, many graduates chanted as they stood and turned their backs to her.
At one point, university President Edison Jackson, who stood in support of DeVos along other faculty members on stage, interrupted the program in an attempt to calm the crowd.
"If this behavior continues, your degrees will be mailed to you," he said. "Choose which way you want to go."
While some took their seats, a few continued to stand or left the room with their fists in the air.
When DeVos completed her 20-minute speech, graduates returned to receive their diplomas and the heckling mostly quieted for the remainder of the graduation.
In February, DeVos praised historically black colleges and universities as "real pioneers when it comes to school choice.” Although she later expounded on her statement, some say her initial one implied that HBCUs were created to merely provide more options; not to combat segregation and Jim Crow laws that prevented blacks from attending college.
Consequently, the institution has been met with backlash, in the form of protests and petitions, for the last few weeks as students and alum have come forward to express their disapproval of DeVos as the commencement speaker,
Here are some scenes from Wednesday’s demonstrations.