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Posted at 6:16 PM ET, 06/ 7/2010

Gray: Fenty took my commencement speaker slot

By Christopher Dean Hopkins
Christopher Dean Hopkins

"Never accept excuses from anyone for why a challenge can't be met," said D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty as he addressed the 2010 class of Dunbar High School.

Fenty was met with boos as well as cheers as he delivered the commencement speech, but the loudest protest came outside from D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray, who left Howard University's Cramton Auditorium before the students got their diplomas but not before complaining that he had been replaced by Fenty as the graduation's commencement speaker.

Gray, who is a graduate of Dunbar (others include D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton and desegregation lawyer Charles Hamilton Houston), told reporters that he had been looking forward to delivering the commencement address and even though he gave remarks he expressed his frustration that he had been done wrong.

A D.C. public schools spokeswoman said Fenty had been asked in April to deliver the commencement address, while Gray said he had unofficially been approached by people associated with the school about being the commencement speaker but acknowledged that he only officially had been asked to make remarks.

As Fenty left, he voiced surprise that there was an issue about the speech. "I didn't know that this was an issue until you guys asked me."

As for the students' boos, Fenty said, "that doesn't bother me," and added that he knew he had work to do with voters. "The campaign is the opportunity to remind people of what you promised you would do four years ago. It is also an opportunity to engage people and let them know that running a city is a very tough job and you have to make a lot of tough decisions and we have been doing it for four years."

While a number students said that it was their right to boo Fenty, other students and parents disagreed.

"I don't think that it was right that they booed the mayor. I cheered for him," said Bianca Jackson, 18, a member of the graduating class.

By Christopher Dean Hopkins  | June 7, 2010; 6:16 PM ET
Categories:  2010 District Election, Hamil R. Harris, Mayor Fenty, vincent gray  
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School performance has improved, crime is down, and public health and municipal services are better since Fenty's election. I'd say Fenty has done well.

Posted by: patio100 | June 7, 2010 11:28 PM | Report abuse

Funny things happen to mayors who set taxicab rates.

Posted by: starclimber9 | June 8, 2010 4:20 AM | Report abuse

School performance has improved (Thanks Clifford Janey), Crime is down (Thanks Chief Charles Ramsey), Public Health and Municipal Services are better (As a result of the establishment of D.C. Customer Service Operations).

And this was all established and was a direct result of the work of Mayor Anthony Williams.

Fenty left well enough alone. The city prospered, IN SPITE OF, Fenty.

The boo's have it.

Posted by: concernedaboutdc | June 8, 2010 6:17 AM | Report abuse

Ok, so you boo the current mayor... I bet ya that Mr. Marion Barry would have gotten a 5 minute standing ovation!!!!! I dont get the city and the way some of the people think. Has he been truthful (Not really but tell me a politician that has??) but the city has made progress the last 4 years. Change is not easy and with change comes decisions that might not be popular one... Have you heard ofthe saying it takes a village? The mayor has had help with making progress... now Vincent Gray should be ashamed of himself

Posted by: rvanags | June 8, 2010 7:25 AM | Report abuse

"He took my spot." Really?? Sounds like my 4 year old.

Posted by: Art17 | June 8, 2010 8:00 AM | Report abuse

4 year old? I'd say this is more like a 3 year old. The 4 yearold Vincent gray is the man who managed to run the most indebted agency (DC Department of Human Services) in city history and played his part in pushing this city towards bankruptcy under Sharon Pratt Kelly.... he's out of touch and if this and baseball tickets are things he's most concerned about, god help us if he becomes mayor.

Posted by: LegitimatelyConcernedAboutDC | June 8, 2010 8:29 AM | Report abuse

We can also thank him for the continuing of gentrification projects and Higher Taxes and Fees.....

Posted by: 4thFloor | June 8, 2010 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Fenty is an effective leader but his personality quite frankly sucks. Don't know about Gray.

Posted by: UnknownHenson | June 8, 2010 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Just when it appears that Vince Gray lacks belief on all the important issues, he takes a brave stand in favor of pettiness.

Posted by: hungrypug | June 8, 2010 9:17 AM | Report abuse

Let me see if I have this right. Fenty inherited city flush with cash from Anthony Williams. A city was running very efficiently compared with before. Fenty won all wards with overwhelming margins. The problem with Fenty is he let the power go to his head. Now the city has problems with juveniles getting out and killing people because of his policies. What has he done on his own? Alice Rivlin of the Control Board would not have endorsed him if he was not fiscally prudent. So Fenty needs to lose, to get some humility, then if he runs for mayor in 4 years he just might be a good mayor this time.

Posted by: niceday971 | June 8, 2010 9:21 AM | Report abuse

Leave Mackin Man alone. He has enough problems as it is now, and it will only get worse in the coming months, maybe.

Posted by: mlombre69 | June 8, 2010 9:39 AM | Report abuse

all of this is too, too petty--dc has more serious things and agenda items that demand honest and ethical attention--get over it

Posted by: fairness3 | June 8, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Well the graduates at Dunbar Senior High are potential voters and tax payers, so they have freedom of speech and expression. They have no quarle from me. The boooos are like the rest of us fed up with Fenty's nonscense, if I was present I would had booed his behind as well BOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

Posted by: Lamcanady | June 8, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

I was totally appaulled as I heard the parents booing Mayor Fenty. I attended the ceremony to watch with honor as my daughter graduated from Dunbar. That certainly was not the appropriate forum for that type of behavior and I am in disbelief that this is what some teach their children. Mayor Fenty I applaud you Sir, you continued to deliver your speech unfazed by the immaturity of some of the parents in the audience. They don't have to like you.... but they do need to respect you. I saw your character and I was very impressed.... BTW, you now have my VOTE!

Posted by: payquita | June 8, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Tit for tat. Murder. Revenge. Adults behaving like children. Children having to be adults for lack of parents. Police shooting children. DC.

Posted by: CalmTruth | June 8, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Republicans have finally come to DC to stir up trouble, All these crazy negative remarks on every page of the Post. It's like they have a template and just insert the name of whoever/whatever gets in their way $$ .. the clincher is this new found racism, beats me, Barry **courted** white votes $$ more than anyone I can recall, even as the District population went down every year.

Posted by: LeastOfThese | June 8, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

@Lamcanady- You must've read my mind:) BOOOOOOOOOOO to Fenty!

Posted by: mselmo32 | June 8, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Boo'ing in totally inappropriate at a high school graduation. Some of us parents teach there children there is a time and place for everything... this was NOT the time or place!

Posted by: payquita | June 8, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Boo'ing in totally inappropriate at a high school graduation. Some of us parents teach their children there is a time and place for everything... this was NOT the time or place!

Posted by: payquita | June 8, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: thelildiva4u | June 8, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Freedom of Speech does not stop at the doors of a graduation ceremony. Adrian Fenty attempted to politicize this ceremony and it backfired.

He is lucky he didn't get the George W. Bush treatment of a shoe being launched at him from the crowd.

Posted by: concernedaboutdc | June 8, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Vincent Grey? Are you people seriously considering that inept CLOWN to run this city?

Posted by: Orsalia | June 8, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

"...if this and baseball tickets are things he's most concerned about, god help us if he becomes mayor."

Posted by: LegitimatelyConcernedAboutDC

Good points.

Posted by: 123cartoon | June 8, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Fenty? Are you people seriously considering this corruption ABUSER to continue to run the city in the ground?

Posted by: thelildiva4u | June 8, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

FREEDOM OF Speech is so essential- who would think Fenty would get trashed at a graduation. Everybody wants Gray..

Posted by: ambitious10241 | June 8, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

That's whats wrong with society today.... No respect for anything or anyone. Maybe if it were you child graduating you would feel different. That is NOT what I teach my daughter (and by the way she is a straight A student). Anywho, it was disrespectful not only to Mayor Fenty, but to the parents, administrators, and children as well.

Posted by: payquita | June 8, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

"DC is like school on a Saturday: No class!" It's not who was being booed, it was the venue. It was a place for the graduates to be honored, not for two childish men and their childish supporters to show who is the bigger a$$.

Posted by: CalmTruth | June 8, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Clearly, Councilman Gray doesn't have enough to do if he can take the time to complain about not being invited as the guest speaker to a graduation. Looks like he need some work on his plate to show he's worthy of his salary.

Posted by: cricket35 | June 8, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Question: At SC state university, Strom Thurmond used to be the guess speaker at graduation. was it appropriate for the students to sit there and say thank you master for the token funds compared to USC and Clemson, or boycott their graduation ceremony?

Why is Fenty immune as he represents policies wherever he goes in DC. Policies that have affected these kids and Dunbar high school.

Posted by: oknow1 | June 8, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

They are both flim-flam artists, and neither one is better than the other in politicizing this event.

Posted by: logosdesigns | June 8, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Lamcanady wrote:
Well the graduates at Dunbar Senior High are potential voters and tax payers, so they have freedom of speech and expression. They have no quarle from me. The boooos are like the rest of us fed up with Fenty's nonscense, if I was present I would had booed his behind as well BOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!
Yes, they have the right. What they, and you dear poster, lack is class, decorum and plain old-fashioned manners.

Posted by: overed | June 8, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Boooo! to Adrian Fenty squandering of a billion dollar surplus.
Booooo! to Adrian Fenty giving $85 million worth of illegal city contracts to his fraternity brothers.
Booooo! to Adrian Fenty being unwilling to work with the City Council.

Posted by: ashafer_usa | June 8, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

I applaud the students at dunbar sr. high for giving the loser an earful. He and peter nickles busted the school union and fired teachers with police escorts. Come september 2010 vote the bum fenty out of office.

Posted by: dcasiatic | June 8, 2010 6:18 PM | Report abuse

Kids dont vote..enough said.

Posted by: largo | June 8, 2010 8:08 PM | Report abuse

@largo: This was a graduation, at 18 kids in DC, DO VOTE!!! and most certainly does their parents and families.

Posted by: concernedaboutdc | June 9, 2010 7:33 AM | Report abuse

Well-behaved citizens do not a democracy make!

Posted by: anisej1 | June 9, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

It is not the booing of Fenty that I am concerned about...but didn't the Washpost write that there were students who didn't want neither as they wanted Marion Barry. Okay, I thought the crack-babies had all graduated.

Now...the boo-birds have gone away. They booed Fenty at Dunbar and then subsequently his representative at Cardozo. But today at Eastern...there was not a boo-bird in the house as Fenty's proclamation was read by his representative at the school's graduation.

As for Gray...that his athlete way of talking...that someone took his place. He was having a alzheimers' moment...he thought he was back in the starting line-up...and he is mad that he is on the second-team.

Fenty's Cheerleaders; chanting "Go back to the woods" and shaking pom-poms.

Gray's Cheerleaders; chanting "Ooops upside the head" and shaking walking-canes.

Posted by: PowerandPride | June 9, 2010 4:22 PM | Report abuse

The principal sets the tone for graduation. Experienced ones know this and they know exactly what I am taking about. Where was the principal? Isn't this person a Rhee hire? Graduation is a serious ceremonial occasion which demands respect, dignity and reverence throughout the whole program of events.

Kudos the the principal at Eastern. He obviously understood the importance of setting the tone for his school's graduation ceremony. Oops - not a Rhee hire.

Posted by: shank2sb | June 10, 2010 8:48 AM | Report abuse

Fenty booed by a few at School Without Walls graduation, too.

Next year Fenty's scheduler will think twice about putting HS graduations on his Mayoral schedu....oh, wait. That might not be an issue for Fenty next year.

Posted by: Trulee | June 10, 2010 8:54 AM | Report abuse

@shanks2b; You're absolutely right, and the Principal of Eastern provided to the audience a speil on what was expected in regards to specators protocol.

I bet you that all principals who are of the seniority level which encompasses Columbia Heights, Banneker, Ellington and Eastern were all hired before Rhee and undoubtedly had boo-free episodes at their respective graduations.

Posted by: PowerandPride | June 10, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

...See the thing about a "leader" is that he or she must "lead" people through difficult times and make difficult decisions. By contrast a politician is someone who tells people what they want to hear to get elected... Considering how much face time the average citizen spends chatting it up with the Mayor & Chancellor, are their personalities really that important if they are running (and improving) the city? think about it.

Posted by: Cicco | June 10, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

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