The Corner


An Embarrassment at Bethune-Cookman

Having obviously learned nothing about good manners during their college years, many of the grads of Bethune-Cookman University — a historically black school in Florida — staged a protest against graduation speaker Betsy DeVos. They wanted to shout her down because she’s part of the Trump administration and therefore a presumptive enemy of progress for blacks. Then something remarkable happened. The school’s president upbraided them for their childish behavior and Secretary DeVos was able to give her speech.

But there’s even more to the story, as William Mattox points out in this Martin Center essay.

You see, the university’s founder, Mary McLeod Bethune, herself was given the “we don’t want you speaking here” treatment long ago, but handled that with grace.

Furthermore, Mattox writes:

Interestingly, one of Mary McLeod Bethune’s most loyal and enthusiastic backers — James N. Gamble of Proctor & Gamble fame — had a demographic profile and philanthropic focus almost mirroring those of Betsy DeVos. Like DeVos, Gamble was a Midwestern Protestant Republican who used monies inherited from a family cleaning products fortune to help give educational options to disadvantaged children being neglected by their local school system.

How sad that the Bethune-Cookman kids have been so completely imbued with the notion that big government is the only way for minority students to obtain the education they need. Otherwise, they’d have been eager to hear what Secretary DeVos had to say.

Mattox concludes, “What makes the 2017 Bethune-Cookman graduation notable isn’t that some B-CU students proved that they could behave just as badly as college students elsewhere. What makes it notable is that B-CU’s president unapologetically confronted student boorishness with a stirring reminder of why free inquiry remains central to the mission of any legitimate university.”

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.