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Fenty booed by Dunbar High grads

In the annals of non-news, an incumbent politician getting booed by a large crowd is right up there with dog bites man.

So you might not want to look to the reaction of Dunbar Senior High School graduates this afternoon as much of a bellwether for Sept. 14, but still: They gave Mayor Adrian Fenty, their commencement speaker, one heckuva booing.

The election-year relevance of the story is enhanced by the presence of D.C. Council chairman, mayoral candidate, and Dunbar graduate Vincent Gray. He, and at least some of the attendees, expected him to deliver their graduation address. Instead, Fenty had the honors.

Jennifer Calloway, a spokeswoman for the D.C. public schools, says that the mayor was invited to attend by Friends of Bedford, Dunbar's nonprofit operator. A Gray spokeswoman, Doxie McCoy, says that her boss was contacted on behalf of a panel of students and teachers who wanted him to deliver the speech.

The result?

Gray gave introductory remarks, Fenty delivered the big speech, and WJLA-TV reporter Stephen Tschida was on the scene, capturing the above video and earning Hizzoner this lovely headline: "Fenty Booed at Dunbar H.S. Commencement"

The Post's Hamil Harris was also there. We'll have his report and video up soon.

UPDATE, 6:15 P.M.: A Fenty spokeswoman has forwarded an April 15 e-mail sent by George Leonard, CEO of Friends of Bedford, to the mayoral communications office. "Please give us some assistance in possibly securing a guest speaker for graduation at both schools. We would love to get Mayor Fenty or Eleanor Norton Holmes for Dunbar and Jesse Jackson for Coolidge," Leonard wrote.

McCoy said earlier today that Gray received his invitation from the student/teacher panel in early May.

UPDATE, 6:55 P.M.: Schools officials indicate this evening that there was no student/teacher panel but rather a group of faculty tasked with finding a speaker. That group, the officials say, didn't have a speaker lined up with less than two months to go, so Friends of Bedford stepped in and approached Fenty.

McCoy says that her boss didn't in fact show up expecting to give the commencement address. But she claims, contrary to the school officials, that there was in fact a panel that chose Gray, whose "choice was rejected by a higher authority, to the displeasure of the panel."

"Mr. Gray was happy to attend in the role of giving remarks," McCoy says.

Also: Hamil's item is now up at D.C. Wire.

By Mike DeBonis  |  June 7, 2010; 5:41 PM ET
Categories:  Adrian Fenty , DCision 2010 , The District , Vincent Gray  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Gray fills out transportation policy, wants to 'get people out of automobiles'
Next: DeMorning DeBonis: June 8, 2010


"Non-news" -- whaa? In the universe where I live, an incument mayor getting loudly booed at a major graduation event is major news and not a good sign. At all.

Posted by: jackwatson1968 | June 7, 2010 6:08 PM | Report abuse

"Non-news" -- whaa? In the universe where I live, an incument mayor getting loudly booed at a major graduation event is big news and not a good sign. At all.

Posted by: jackwatson1968 | June 7, 2010 6:10 PM | Report abuse

My guess is an awful lot of speakers have been booed by DCPS students, who are not known for their civility. Lets just be glad no one was mobbed and beaten... (or...?).

Posted by: mendelsonmustgo | June 7, 2010 6:10 PM | Report abuse

big news here is that dunbar HS graduates are boors. wait, maybe that's not news...

Posted by: IMGoph | June 7, 2010 7:04 PM | Report abuse

please! this is nothing compared to the booing Marion Barry got at my brothers graduation at Ballou! They booed so loud and for so long that Calvin Lockridge sent the kids home before the graduation ceremony was over!!! ahahahaha! We were so happy when Ms. Moody beat him out of that position....heh heh

Posted by: cbmuzik | June 7, 2010 7:18 PM | Report abuse

Freak show!!

Posted by: ConservativeDemocrat | June 7, 2010 7:24 PM | Report abuse

Gray would not have even considered it if he hadn't decided to run.
When was the last time he showed up at Dunbar?
And, lucky students, had he been the speaker.. they would have been waiting for him.. He is notorious for not being on time.
Then he would have subjected the students to his vacuous stream of verbage, or lack thereof.

Posted by: pdv1 | June 7, 2010 7:43 PM | Report abuse

Normally, this would reflect poorly on the mayor, but anyone who has taken the metro in DC during the early afternoon knows that DCPS students have the civility and manners of a bunch of jackals.

Posted by: loved1 | June 7, 2010 7:48 PM | Report abuse

He deserves it. However, the DCPS kids are seriously horrible. THese two groups, Fenty Freaks and the kids, deserve one another.

Posted by: FiatBooks | June 7, 2010 7:49 PM | Report abuse

Slow news day.

Posted by: Bitter_Bill | June 7, 2010 7:56 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: potomacfever00 | June 7, 2010 8:05 PM | Report abuse

At least they showed some intelligence.

Posted by: observator1000 | June 7, 2010 9:17 PM | Report abuse

A hearty cheer for the Dunbar class of 2010. Has anyone paused to think for a moment that perhaps the graduates were not simply being rude, but were expressing their considered displeasure at (among other things) the disruption Fenty (and Rhee) wrought by the Mass Teacher Firings of Autumn 2009? I venture to say that if Fenty dared set foot at McKinley Tech, he'd get a similar (if not worse) reaction.

Posted by: nan_lynn | June 7, 2010 9:29 PM | Report abuse

These kids are awesome.
Oh, and for all you offering up comments with "coded" racist language: ("jackals", "glad no one was mobbed and beaten", "boors," "freak show") you are the disgusting ones.

Which is more lamentable: a racist who hides on a message board using coded language, or a group of students who follow local politics?

Posted by: foldingtime | June 7, 2010 9:48 PM | Report abuse

These kids are out of line, and the laughable part is that any of you would attribute their lack of decorum to any kind of civic protest. My dear hope is that Fenty will win, and Rhee will continue her campaign to clean up the schools. It might have come too late for some of these students, but given enough time there is the hope they will be one of the last classes to show blatant disrespect. Anyone who is ok with this type of behavior needs to do some self-evaluation, and if that's what you want your kids to turn into, be careful what you wish for. Punks.

Posted by: awshux | June 7, 2010 10:56 PM | Report abuse

Graduates yes, but still not necessarily educated ones.

Posted by: michael49 | June 7, 2010 11:07 PM | Report abuse

I can guarantee you if I as a parent had been there, my child would not have booed Fenty....He was an invited guest and you do not show disrespect for someone you have INVITED...If you have a problem with a speaker, DON'T SHOW UP!!!!! An empty auditorium would send a much louder message...

Shame on the students and a black mark on Dunbar which is a fine school....

Posted by: pentagon40 | June 7, 2010 11:24 PM | Report abuse

School performance has improved, crime is down, and public health and municipal services are better since Fenty's election. Let's harass Fenty and vote for Gray, ....amazing.

Posted by: patio100 | June 7, 2010 11:25 PM | Report abuse

Funny things happen to mayors who set taxicab rates.

Posted by: starclimber9 | June 8, 2010 3:36 AM | Report abuse

It's just a pure lack of civility. What do a bunch of 17 or 18 year old kids know about politics? The only thing told to them by adults around them is that Fenty's an uncle Tom. If a politician is not a slick talker like Barry or Kwame Kilpatrick (Detroit) they'll get "no love" in certain communities.

Plus there is nothing coded or racist about pointing out boorish behavior. Even if one does not agree with a speaker's policies, it's boorish to boo that loudly just because they like the other guy better (Gray).

Posted by: jabreal00 | June 8, 2010 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Jabeal00 a bunch of 17 or 18 year olds know a lot about politics. As a 17 / 18 year old Dunbar senior High School graduate. I was into politics, just waiting on my opportunity to express my right that people died for me to have. At this point Mayor Fenty should know that he has failed the same community that he gave hope too four years ago. I feel as though he is taking our city away from those of us who where born and raised here. It doesn't surprise me as he is a crook that is known. He was appointed by the court to help wards of the city control their assets and guess what he did. He took those people hard earned money. He does not have the residents best interest at heart it all about money. All this money moving around in this city and in order to close the budget deficit, he fires 40 library workers. Maybe he should charge a RELOCATION Tax or a BUILDING TAX. But he wont be here long much longer U wont fool us twice FENTY !!!!!! Vincent Gray All Day, on thing about Mr Gray he has back BONE!!! You wont walk over him!!!!

Patio100 School performance has not improved at all!!!! My kids are going to a chartered school next year. Bright paint and new floors dont count ( You can dress a pig up but its still a Pig) if you telling the kids the answers on standardized test, so you can keep ur job!!!

Posted by: Jahkai01 | June 8, 2010 11:59 PM | Report abuse

It is sad that we still judge all by what a few do. While some of you are so quick to degrade the graduates of Dunbar high school, let me please set you straight since I was actually in attendance. The graduates did not boo the mayor, although I am sure they wanted to. They were well behaved, poised and excited about their special day. The parents and guest were the ones who were booing. One graduate even turned around and said they are messing up their day. Don't judge all of DCPS children by a few. There are the same "few" who attend Maryland, Virginia aand private schools, rich and poor, black , white, purple and green. Adults and politics disrupted what was suppose to be their special day.

Posted by: iamblessed | June 9, 2010 10:20 PM | Report abuse

Two thumbs up to DCPS students to exercise their right to be civilly dis-obediant. A tenant this country was built on.

Posted by: teacherspet | June 12, 2010 9:41 AM | Report abuse

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