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Liberal fury erupts after historically black college asks Betsy DeVos to give keynote address

A Change.org petition calls on an historically black university in Florida to "rescind" U.S. education secretary Betsy DeVos' invitation to speak at its commencement next week. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

A historically black college in Florida invited U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to speak at its commencement ceremony later this month — and liberals are freaking out.

Bethune-Cookman University, a private, historically black college in Daytona Beach, Florida, announced Monday that DeVos was slated to be the keynote speaker at the May 10 ceremony.

In a news release announcing the speaker, the university compared DeVos to its founder, Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune. According to Biography.com, Bethune was an educator and civil rights activist who served as the president of the National Association of Colored Women and founded the National Council of Negro Women. She founded Bethune-Cookman University in 1904 and died in 1955.

"Much like Dr. Bethune, Secretary DeVos deems the importance of opportunity and hope for students to receive an exceptional education experience," the university stated. "Her mission to empower parents and students resonates with the history and legacy of Dr. Bethune."

B-CU President Edison Jackson piled on the praise for both DeVos, also likening her to Bethune, who he said was not bound by her political affiliations.

“The legacy of Dr. Bethune is that she was not constrained by political ideology, but worked across all parties to support B-CU,” Jackson said.

It wasn't long after B-CU made the announcement that liberals began criticizing the pick.

"America deserves better than Betsy DeVos. So does Bethune-Cookman," one person tweeted, along with a defamatory photo of DeVos with a reference to her infamous "grizzlies" comment from her Senate confirmation hearing.

"To compare Mary McLeod Bethune to Betsy Devos is blasphemy," another user tweeted.

And yet, another added there is "no comparison" between the two women.

Now, with just a week to go until commencement, more than 5,000 online users have called on the college to "rescind" the invitation to DeVos. A Change.org petition claims that DeVos "doesn't understand that HBCUs [historically black colleges and universities] were created because African-Americans were excluded from mainstream institutions."

The petition cited DeVos saying in a statement in February that HCBUs are "the real pioneers when it comes to school choice." DeVos later clarified what she meant, acknowledging that black people's attendance at HBCUS's was "not out of mere choice, but out of necessity," the New York Times reported.

The Change.org petition acknowledged that even though DeVos corrected herself "the damage was already done."

"It would be enough if that was the only error DeVos has committed to insult the HBCU community," the petition declared. The petition cites a Department of Education memorandum, issued April 11, which would reverse the previous administration's attempt to let student borrowers pay back their loans according to what they made.

Given that a majority of B-CU students receive some form of financial aid and that the median income of a B-CU graduate is only $22,000 per year for the first two years after having graduated, "this would make it virtually impossible to immediately begin to pay off an estimated $52,000 in student loan debt" from B-CU, the Change.org petition stated.

"Having DeVos speak at the commencement ceremony is an insult to the B-CU graduating class, students, alumni, family, friends, and Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune’s legacy," the petition stated. "We, the proud alumni of Bethune-Cookman University, do not want Betsy DeVos to have a seat at our table. Please rescind her invitation to speak at the graduation ceremony."

(H/T: Legal Insurrection)

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