The beginning of James Comey’s stint at Howard University is proving to be no less contentious than his tenure leading the FBI.
The former FBI director, who was fired by President Trump in May, appeared Friday to deliver a speech at the school’s Convocation Ceremony, only to have the beginning of his address held up by student protestors. Comey has joined the prestigious historically black college as a lecturer for the academic year.
Just as Comey was set to begin his remarks, a group of students in the back of the venue could be heard on a livestream of the event singing, “We shall, we shall not be moved,” “No justice, no peace,” and other protest chants. Comey stood patiently at first, and at one point a rival “let him speak” chant broke out among others in the audience.
The livestream then cut out for about 10 minutes, replaced by a video produced by Howard. When the feed of Comey’s speech came back on, he was asking the protestors to allow him to speak.
“I love the enthusiasm of the young folks, I just wish they would understand what a conversation is,” he said. “A conversation is where you speak and I listen, then I speak and you listen, and we get back and forth, and back and forth.”
The chanting continued as Comey went on with his boilerplate address about why colleges like Howard should be considered an important part of the “real world.” He did manage to work in another dig at the protestors, too.
“The rest of the real world is a place where it is hard sometimes to find people who will listen with an attitude that they might actually be convinced of something,” Comey said. “Instead what happens in most of the real world — and in about four rows of this auditorium — is that people don’t listen at all. They just try to figure out what rebuttal they’re going offer when you’re done speaking.”