Betsy DeVos’ controversial statements on African-American colleges in the past
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos was booed and repeatedly interrupted by students Wednesday during her commencement speech in Bethune-Cookman University, a historically black college in Daytona Beach, Florida.
The hostile reception for DeVos, who was one of President Donald Trump's controversial cabinet choices, was mainly as a result of controversial statements she had made in the past regarding African-American colleges.
One of those came at the end of Black History Month this year, when she equated the role of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) with her “school choice” policy.
“HBCUs are real pioneers when it comes to school choice,” DeVos said in a statement, Politico reported. “They are living proof that when more options are provided to students, they are afforded greater access and greater quality. Their success has shown that more options help students flourish.”
DeVos’ statement eroded any goodwill from the African-American community Trump might have hoped for after signing an executive order beckoning the White House to take a more hands-on approach to higher education, stated a Politico report.
Robert Palmer, an education professor at Howard University, branded DeVos’ statement “a bit crazy,” while Austin Lane, the president of Texas Southern University, an HBCU in Houston, found her statement to be puzzling.
“HBCUs were created for African-Americans because they had no choice and were unable to attend schools due to segregation laws,” Lane said.
When social media users blasted DeVos’ original statement, a spokesperson for the Education Department tried to calm the situation down by claiming her statement was taken out of context. In an effort to clarify her statement, DeVos made another comment, which Betsy DeVos’ controversial statements on African-American colleges in the past: