Empowered Youth

University Of Florida Under Fire After Black Students Aggressively Yanked From Stage For Celebratory Strolling

While graduation is supposed to be a time of happiness shared with family and friends, University of Florida officials seemed determined to make it anything but for some of the school’s black students.

As footage of black UF students being yanked off during their graduation ceremony on Saturday, May 5, many people are demanding answers. It appears when black students did any type of celebratory dance, wave or stroll on the university’s Jumbotron that was longer than three seconds, they were quickly grabbed and pulled off stage by a white, male faculty member.

University of Florida president W. Kent Fuchs issued an apology for the overzealous removals.

During one of this weekend’s commencement ceremonies, we were inappropriately aggressive in rushing students across the stage. I personally apologize, and am reaching out to the students involved.

The practice has been halted for all future ceremonies, and we will work to make sure all graduating students know we are proud of their achievements and celebrate with them their graduation.

“During one of this weekend’s commencement ceremonies, we were inappropriately aggressive in rushing students across the stage,” he tweeted.
He also pledged to personally apologize to all of the students involved. However, those in attendance quickly called Fuchs on his bluff by saying he was in attendance and did nothing to protect the students.

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Nafeesah Attah, a student at the university, told Good Morning America that the yanking was definitely racially motivated.

“It was definitely contingent on your race… other white students who were dancing were not perceived as a threat,” Attah said.

Attah clarified that most of those yanked offstage were members of black sororities and fraternities looking to do a quick stroll. As those who are familiar with black Greek life know, strolls are symbolic gestures of joy. Why they would be a reason to get pulled offstage is still unclear. Attah said that she had family from South Florida and London in attendance. The graduate says that being yanked offstage was hard for her little sister to watch.

“I kind of planned what I wanted to do on stage to celebrate my story, all of my hard work I’d done at the University of Florida,” Attah said. “I tried to do one of my stroll moves, but I was instantly like blocked by one of the officials on stage and they aggressively pushed me off the stage after that,” she added. “So I was definitely disappointed they took that moment from me because I can only get my bachelors once.”

In light of the backlash, The University of Florida released a statement on Sunday saying it “regrets that any celebration of the day may have been diminished by those monitoring a graduation ceremony.” However, for those affected by the racial bias, their graduation day is not one that they will ever get back.