On Wednesday, historically Black university Bethune-Cookman acquired national attention after U.S. Secretary Betsy DeVos delivered their commencement speech.
Shortly after the University made the announcement — less than two weeks shy of their graduation ceremony —students and alumni began to petition the University to withdraw DeVos as their speaker.
Two-time HBCU alumnus Dominik Whitehead spearheaded one of the online petitions that garnered more than 5,000 signatures within just a few days of its creation. Whitehead shared with ESSENCE how the selection of the speaker at his alma mater “sends a mix message and it becomes tone-deaf."
Recent graduates Taylor and Tyler Durrant, who are 22-year-old identical twins, told ESSENCE that they found the selection both “insulting” and “embarrassing.”
“I think it’s just a slap in the face to understand now that we’re being sold … our legacy is being sold,” Tyler Durrant told ESSENCE about her skepticism of her soon-to-be alma mater’s motives to invite the U.S. Secretary to speak during their graduation.
Here’s everything you need to know about the Daytona Beach-based historically Black college founded nearly 150 years ago: