Students broke out in protest and chants before James Comey began his convocation speech on Friday. Chants like “James Comey, you’re not our homie”, “No justice, no peace,” and “We shall not be moved” could be heard on the livestream video of the ceremony. Howard University Dean Bernard Richardson of The Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel attempted to calm protests telling students that protesting was “not the Howard University way.”
Contrary to Richardson’s statement, the historically black university has a rich history of protest and civil disobedience going back decades.
Comey, who was fired by President Donald Trump in May, is a source of contention for his relationship with Russia — a country that has been directly linked to altering the 2016 election results. Comey was said to be fired by Trump in an attempt to stop the Russian investigation.
He also launched an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails less than a month before the 2016 election, a move that many believe propelled Trump into the White House.
Despite the pushback from students, Comey continued to deliver his speech through the interruption and chants of protesters. In his speech, Comey welcomed the challenge of working with students on complicated issues. He was quoted as saying “Howard University reminds us that we have been through very tough times but we always overcome them.”
In August it was announced that Comey would be Howard University’s Opening Convocation keynote speaker and was given the 2017-2017 Gwendolyn S. and Colbert I. King Endowed Chair in Public Policy. As part of his role at Howard University, Comey will discuss issues with students and deliver a series of lectures. Comey is also donating his entire King Chair compensation of $100,00 to the school.