#GraduatingWhileBlack: University of Florida Apologizes for Pushing Black Graduates Off the Stage

Gif: Giphy

Imagine waiting anxiously for four years to walk across the stage, give your family members a few seconds to get a good photo, or maybe a dab or two, during graduation, only to be pushed off the stage by an aggressive usher? That’s exactly what happened to black graduates at the University of Florida on Saturday.


As students graduated over the weekend, several videos were posted to social media that showed an unnamed usher literally pushing black students off the stage during their few seconds of joy.

In an interview with the Gainesville Sun, one student, Oliver Telusma (seen in the GIF above), said he was grabbed and picked up and rushed off the stage.

“I had just started, and he picked me up and turned me around, which I thought was kind of embarrassing and degrading, to be handled in that manner,” Telusma said.

W. Kent Fuchs, the university’s president, issued an apology on Twitter and also during another commencement on Sunday:

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.

But by the time the apology was made, students were already expressing their anger on social media:


Although the usher has not been identified, people are calling for him to be fired:


In response to the allegations that the usher was only manhandling black students, UF spokeswoman Margot Winick said that the university is waiting for more information from its investigation.

Share This Story

About the author

Yesha Callahan

Bye, Kinja! It's been fun (occasionally).