NAACP Calls on Betsy DeVos to Refuse Invite to Speak at Black College

Betsy DeVos-Founder BCU @bethunecookman

The Florida chapter of the NAACP is calling on U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to decline an invitation to give the commencement address at Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU), a private historically black university in Daytona Beach.

The leftwing organization is urging DeVos, a promoter of school choice, to refuse the invitation “based on her horrible public education record impacting blacks and minorities in Florida and around the country.”

Adora Obi Nweze, president of NAACP Florida State Conference and member of the national board of directors, said:

The role of the U.S. Department of Education is to prohibit discrimination ensuring equal access to public education and the new Secretary of Education should pledge to drastically increase funding for all historically black colleges and universities. This has not happened to-date. If Secretary DeVos ultimately speaks at commencement and receives an honorary degree, this would be a slap in the face to minorities, women and all communities of color.

“[W]hile she has spoken about her concern for protecting students from disability discrimination, where is her passion, or even concern, for fighting racial discrimination?” NAACP further asks in a press release.

The NAACP – along with the teachers union in Florida – has vehemently opposed the state’s tax-credit scholarship program, which provides tax credits to corporations that donate scholarship funds to low-income students, reports Politico.

NAACP is also condemning B-CU for extending the invitation to DeVos. The group asserts:

We believe the leadership of Bethune Cookman University should not bestow an honorary degree to Secretary DeVos based on her post-secondary education record. What makes the Bethune Cookman University approach unusual, is their plan to honor a person who has been on the job less than one hundred days and has no record of advancing educational equity for all students.

Nevertheless, B-CU president Dr. Edison O. Jackson said in a statement, “Bethune-Cookman University is a school built on the legacy and the transformation of students.”

“Dr. Bethune’s love for students started with five little girls and grew to over 250 students during her time as university president,” Jackson continued. “The legacy of Dr. Bethune is that she was not constrained by political ideology, but worked across all parties to support B-CU.”

Sean Jackson, chairman of the Black Republican Caucus of Florida, is applauding DeVos’s visit to B-CU and the tax-credit scholarship program in Florida that allows predominantly minority children better education opportunities.

“For three decades, Secretary DeVos has been a fighter for our nation’s children and parents,” he said. “While the NAACP is focused on denying the nearly 80,000 predominately minority children the chance at a better education, Secretary DeVos has been fighting to improve educational opportunities – independent of the government – for most of her life.”

In an open letter published at the Orlando Sentinel, B-CU president Jackson observed that some college presidents “have rescinded invitations to potentially controversial speakers.”

He continued:

That is not my intention with DeVos. I am of the belief that it does not benefit our students to suppress voices that we disagree with, or to limit students to only those perspectives that are broadly sanctioned by a specific community.

One of the lasting hallmarks of higher education is its willingness to engage, explore and experience that which we deem as “other.” When we shelter our students and campus communities from views that are diametrically opposed to their own, we actually leave our students far less capable of combating those ideas.

“I have gratitude for the past, and hope for the future,” Jackson said. “So I ask the courtesy of your consideration to hear what Betsy DeVos, the 11th U.S. secretary of education, tells us. Remember that dialogue is a two-way street.”


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.