About 2,000 students, protesting the selection of Republican National Committee Chairman Lee Atwater as a trustee of Howard University, took over an auditorium stage Friday, forcing officials to move a convocation that included presentation of an honorary degree to comedian Bill Cosby.
Cosby was a scheduled speaker at a ceremony marking the founding of the predominantly black university 122 years ago. Police reported no arrests.
The students’ comments indicated they identified Atwater with controversial ads, during George Bush’s presidential campaign last year, featuring Willie Horton, a murderer who attacked a Maryland couple while he was on furlough from a Massachusetts prison. The Horton issue contributed “to the rising anti-black sentiment of the American people,” said a spokesman for students who organized the protest.