April 24, 2020 | News | No Comments
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said he will not resign from the governship after a photo from his 1984 medical school yearbook showed a photo that included a person wearing blackface and a second person wearing a KKK costume. Speaking from the executive mansion in Richmond, Northam, a Democrat, said he believes he is not either of the two people in the photo.
The governor said the photo was clearly racist and offensive and he is not excusing the content, calling it offensive, racist and despicable. Northam said he did not have anything to do with the prepartion of the yearbook and did not buy a copy.
The first time Northam saw the photo that prompted calls from across the Democratic establishment for him to resign, was when his staff showed it to him on Friday, he said.
At the press conference, Northam admitted to darkening his face as part of a Michael Jackson costume when he participated at a dance competition in San Antonio. Northam said he regrets that episode.
“I stand by my statement of apology to the many Virginians who were hurt by seeing this content on a yearbook page that belongs to me,” Northam said. “It is disgusting. It is offensive. It is racist. And it was my responsibility to recognize it and prevent it from being published in the first place.”
Northam’s remarks on Saturday contradicted his statement issued on Friday, where said he was “deeply sorry” for his decision to appear as he did in the photo. On Saturday, Northam said that in the hours since he made Friday’s statement, he reflected with his family and classmates from the time and affirmed his conclusion that he is not the person in the photo.
“My belief that I did not wear that costume or attend that party stems in part from my clear memory of other mistakes I made in this same period of my life,” Northam said. He then admitted to darkening his face during a dance competition that happened the same year.
You can watch Northam’s full remarks below:
Following his remarks, The Virginia Black Legislative Caucus said in a statement that it was amplifying its call for Northam to resign.
Since the photo was first published by news outlets on Friday, Northam has faced growing calls to resign from within his own party, with both state and national Democrats saying Northam should step down. On Saturday morning, former Vice President Joe Biden joined the Democrats calling on Northam to resign.
“There is no place for racism in America,” Biden said in a tweet. “Northam has lost all moral authority and should resign immediately, Justin Fairfax is the leader Virginia needs now.”
The Democratic Party of Virginia said it had made the decision to let Northam do the right thing and resign Saturday morning but the party said it received word he would not be resigning.
“We stand with Democrats across Virginia and the country calling him to immediately resign,” the Virginia Democratic Party said in a statement. “He no longer has our confidence or our support. Governor Northam must end this chapter immediately, step down, and let Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax heal Virginia’s wounds and move us forward.”
Fairfax issued a statement Saturday afternoon saying he was shocked and saddened by the images.
“As we commemorate 400 years since the first enslaved Africans were brought to Virginia, it is painful to experience such a searing reminder of the modern legacy of our nation’s orginal sin,” Fairfax said. “And, as someone whose great-great-great grandfather was enslaved in Virginia, this episode strikes particularly close to home.”
You can read Fairfax’s full statement below:
The Democratic Governors Association also issued a statement Saturday saying Northam should resign.
“The photo of Ralph Northam’s yearbook that surfaced yesterday is both racist and inexcusable,” Govs. Raimondo and Murphy, of Rhode Island and New Jersey respectively, said in a statement. “It is time for Gov. Northam to step aside and allow Virginia to move forward.”
Photo: Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, left, gestures as his wife, Pam, listens during a news conference in the Governors Mansion at the Capitol in Richmond, Va., Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019. Northam is under fire for a racial photo that appeared in his college yearbook. Photo by Steve Helber/Associated Press
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