Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam acknowledged Friday that he appears in a photo on his 1984 medical school yearbook page that shows a person in blackface and another wearing a Ku Klux Klan robe.
The revelation of the photograph prompted some Republicans to call for his resignation. Northam quickly apologized.
The Democratic governor confirmed in a statement that he was in the photo wearing a costume “that is clearly racist and offensive.” Northam did not say which costume he was wearing.
“This behaviour 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,” he said.
Republican state Sen. Bryce Reeves said in a statement that Northam should resign if the reports of the photos are accurate.
“I hope that this picture is inaccurate and that the Governor brings clarity to this issue. This has no place in Virginia,” Reeves said.
I hope that this picture is inaccurate and that the Governor brings clarity to this issue. This has no place in Virginia. If this is true, he should resign immediately. <a href=”https://t.co/qY6yF91ipD”>https://t.co/qY6yF91ipD</a>
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and prominent Democratic presidential candidates also called for Northam to resign.
NAACP president Derrick Johnson tweeted Friday night: “Black face in any manner is always racist and never okay.”
Democratic California Sen. Kamala Harris also tweeted that Northam should “step aside so the public can heal and move forward together.”
Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and fellow presidential hopeful Julian Castro took to Twitter with a similar message, saying Northam should resign because his “behaviour was racist and unconscionable.”
Leaders are called to a higher standard, and the stain of racism should have no place in the halls of government. The Governor of Virginia should step aside so the public can heal and move forward together.
It doesn’t matter if he is a Republican or a Democrat. This behavior was racist and unconscionable. Governor Northam should resign.
If Northam were to resign, Lt.-Gov. Justin Fairfax, who is African-American, would assume the governor’s office.
For now, Northam’s close allies haven’t said anything publicly. Democratic Sen. Jennifer McClellan, a well-known African-American lawmaker from Richmond, just shook her head when approached by a reporter seeking comment.
The Virginian-Pilot obtained a copy of the photo Friday from Eastern Virginia Medical School library, which Northam attended. The photo shows two people looking at the camera — one in blackface wearing a hat, bow tie and plaid pants; the other in white Klan robes.
The yearbook images were first published by the conservative News outlet Big League Politics. An Associated Press reporter saw the yearbook page and confirmed its authenticity at the medical school.
Northam, a folksy pediatric neurologist who is personal friends with many GOP lawmakers, has recently come under fire from Republicans who have accused him of backing infanticide after he said he supported a bill loosening restrictions on late-term abortions.
Last week, Florida’s secretary of state resigned after photos from a 2005 Halloween party showed him in blackface while dressed as a Hurricane Katrina victim.
Source : cbc