Howard University students responded to the convocation address that was delivered by James Comey, the former FBI director, with songs and protest chants, according to Politico.
A video shows about 20 student protesters singing “We Shall Not Be Moved” in the back of the auditorium. In an interview, Jaquatte Williams, a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism, said that Comey could not be heard over the sound of the protesters and that he waited at the podium for the students to stop.
Student activists called HU Resist said in a recent news release, Comey’s work at the FBI included a “dismissal of racist state-sanctioned violence, and efforts to dismantle the growing Black Lives Matter movement, similar to the FBI’s efforts to dismantling of the civil-rights and Black-power movements just a few decades prior.”
The Howard convocation is meant to welcome new students to the campus. Protesters said Comey was not a speaker who aligned with the goals of the HBCU.
“James Comey represents an institution diametrically opposed to the interests of Black people domestically and abroad,” read the release. “While his tenure at the FBI has finished, his impact on our community remains.”
The crowd of about 1,500 people, mostly students and faculty, according to Politico, were divided on the protest. Audience members even chanted back “let him speak.”
Comey’s speech was the first of several he’s set to deliver at the university during the 2017-2018 school year.