University of Florida

The NAACP issued a statement condemning the actions of a University of Florida official who acted aggressively towards three black graduates during commencement.

During recent graduation ceremonies at the University of Florida, roughly two dozen graduates were rushed off the stage by a marshal with the university. However, three black graduates affiliated with a historic black fraternity were given more aggressive treatment by the marshal.

“It’s unacceptable that the simple idea of being Black can trigger explicit and implicit bias which generates such aggressive responses toward Black people,” NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson said in a public statement. “he fact that paying respect to their sororities and fraternities through ‘strolling,’ generates fear even on a college campus, means that any institution receiving public funding must ensure that all employees get tested for and receive training in implicit bias.”

According to the Palm Beach Post, the graduates were celebrating their graduation in a dance known as “strolling,” which is a popular tradition of America’s historic black fraternities and sororities, when the marshal shoved the students off the stage. The videos below show examples of strolling during a graduation ceremonies at Arizona State University and Cal Poly Pomona:

The University of Florida has reportedly placed the marshal on administrative leave, and school officials are reaching out to the students shoved off stage.

“The University of Florida and I failed to provide an appropriate event for all of our students so that they could be celebrated and that they could celebrate their graduations,” University of Florida Ken Fuchs said in a statement posted to Twitter. “I’m communicating with you to apologize personally, and secondly to apologize on behalf of the University.”

Fuchs also promised to launch a task force, chaired by the student body president and a university vice president, to examine commencement ceremonies.


Jake Shepherd is a freelance writer from Cleveland, Ohio. He enjoys poring through financial disclosure statements, spirited debate, and good scotch. He remains eternally optimistic about the Browns. Email him at jake.d.shepherd.21 (at) hotmail (dot) com.

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