Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam today acknowledged appearing in a “clearly racist and offensive” photograph in his 1984 medical school yearbook that shows a man in blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan robe.
In a statement tonight, Northam, a Democrat, confirmed he appears in the photo “in a costume that is clearly racist and offensive,” but did not specify which person is him.
“I am deeply sorry for the decision I made to appear as I did in this photo and for the hurt that decision caused then and now,” Northam said. “This behavior is not in keeping with who I am today and the values I have fought for throughout my career in the military, in medicine and in public service. But I want to be clear, I understand how this decision shakes Virginians’ faith in that commitment. I recognize that it will take time and serious effort to heal the damage this conduct has caused. I am ready to do that important work. The first step is to offer my sincerest apology and to state my absolute commitment to living up to the expectations Virginians set for me when they elected me to be their governor.”
Under the racist photo are listed Northam’s alma mater, Virginia Military Institute, and his interest: “Pediatrics.” His quote is listed as “There are more old drunks than old doctors in this world so I think I’ll have another beer.”
On the half-page set aside for Northam, there is a headshot of him in a jacket and tie, a photo of him in a cowboy hat and boots and a third of him sitting casually on the ground, leaning against a convertible.
The fourth photo on the half-page has two people, one wearing white Ku Klux Klan robes and a hood, the other with his face painted black.
The person with the black face is also wearing a white hat, black jacket, white shirt with a bow tie and plaid pants.
Both are holding canned drinks.
Northam, a pediatric neurologist, graduated from the Norfolk medical school in 1984 after earning an undergraduate degree from Virginia Military Institute.
The Republican party immediately called on him to resign, but the governor’s statement indicated that he would continue his work.
The chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, Jack Wilson, said in a statement: “Racism has no place in Virginia. These pictures are wholly inappropriate. If Governor Northam appeared in blackface or dressed in a KKK robe, he should resign immediately.”
Vivian Paige, a long-time political activist in Norfolk who has known Northam since he first ran for office, said she was distraught over the news and felt Northam should step down.
Attribution:The Washington Post