Granddaughter of Mary McLeod Bethune Reacts to DeVos Commencement Address

This morning on News One Now host and managing editor Roland Martin interviewed Dr. Evelyn Bethune, granddaughter of Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, about her reaction to having Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos speak at Bethune-Cookman University’s commencement last week. Bethune’s grandmother was founder of the school and a tireless fighter for equality in education. She protested and picketed against the administration’s decision, and was at the commencement herself as her grandson received his masters degree during the ceremony.


“I was highly insulted, and my family was insulted. It was the first time in my life that I held a picket sign on the campus of Bethune-Cookman University against Bethune-Cookman University. It wasn’t about her ethnicity, her race, it was about her platform. And the fact that she has no credentials that qualify her for the position that she’s holding currently at the national level, and no credentials that qualify her for an honorary doctorate. I think it was insulting to give her an honorary doctorate,” said Bethune, adding that she was proud of the graduates who stood and turned their backs during the ceremony.

“Those students earned the right after 4,5,6 years to say they were unhappy with who their speaker was. This should have been about them and it wasn’t. For those students to stand up they took a chance that they might not get their degree. And they marched in the street – they didn’t just stand and turn their backs, they protested the week before as well. They stood their ground and I am extremely proud of them. My hope is that the university will start to understand that they cannot just shove certain things down the throats of their students their faculty, their alumni, and no matter how much they don’t value our input that they have to start to value the input, because the university can’t stand without all of those ingredients.”


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