Graduating students at the Florida university expressed their disapproval by booing and turning their backs as DeVos spoke, making images and videos of those intense moments go viral on social media.
Jackson said degrees would be mailed to students if their behavior continued.
"You don't know her and you don't know her story" Jackson said in defense of Manigault.
The petition refers to a statement released by DeVos in February, in which she referred to historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) as "real pioneers when it comes to school choice". "[HBCUs] are living proof that when more options are provided to students, they are afforded greater access and greater quality".
I guess maybe the lesson here is don't give a rich white woman an honorary doctorate to a historically black university when her biggest achievement is donating to the Republican Party.
But instead of listening to whatever DeVos had to say - whether it be the aforementioned "common ground" or not - the graduates, faculty, and alumni, along with their families and friends weren't having it, drowning her words out with loud boos and jeers, according to the Chronicle.
Betsy DeVos delivering the commencement address at Bethune-Cookman University.
"One of the hallmarks of higher education and of democracy is the ability to converse with people with whom we disagree", DeVos told the crowd, her voice raised slightly to be heard above the boos.
Students were upset by the choice of DeVos, said Petra Merrick, a graduating senior who was editor of the college newspaper for the past two years. Dozens of activists lined a sidewalk early Wednesday; their signs included "DeVos is not worthy". "Let's choose to hear one another out", she said over the chaotic din of students in the audience booing repeatedly, mixed with university officials' futile attempts to counteract their protests with adamant clapping.
Jackson had been accused of selling out the school by inviting DeVos.
"You don't know her and you don't know her story", said Bethune-Cookman's president Dr. Edison O. Jackson in response to the disruption.
"I think Betsy forgot her name was Betsy and not Mary McLeod Bethune", said Johnson, a 2008 grad. "We need everyone to be a part of this continuation of our institution".
Some students agreed, saying the school needs help from anyone offering it, no matter their party affiliation.
"While we will undoubtedly disagree at times, I hope we can do so respectfully", DeVos said to the crowd.