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Source: iOne Creative, Getty / iOne Creative

 

Dear Graduates of Bethune-Cookman:

First, congratulations! We are so proud of what you have accomplished. You have studied, prepared, planned, learned, and have earned what our parents, grandparents, and ancestors have had to fight, scrape, and die for in this nation. We are proud of you for that!

Beyond becoming graduates, we are floating this morning thinking about how you stood up to your university and protested the woefully under-qualified Secretary of Education who attempted to address you at your graduation yesterday. Watching you stand and turn your backs to her makes us elated. Overjoyed. Humbled. It was a day and a moment that should have been about celebrating you and what you achieved.

The world watched you protest the speaker you never should have had. We cheered as we saw so many of you refuse to acquiesce in the face of threats and calls for complicity. Your actions fit within a long tradition of Black people fighting back against those who attack our institutions and our very lives with their anti-Black policies and anglo-normative practices. Betsy DeVos’ commitment to dismantling public education and her egregious framing of historically Black colleges and universities as “pioneers” in school choice are just two examples of why she should never have been invited to speak at an event celebrating Black excellence.

Read full letter and see the 216 signatories at Cassius

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