Northam Apologizes, Admits He Appeared In Racist Blackface Photo, As Calls For His Resignation Mount

Virginia Governor-elect Ralph Northam waves to supporters at an election night rally November 7, 2017 in Fairfax, Virginia.
Win McNamee / Getty Images

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam issued a statement on Friday admitting that he appeared in blackface next to a man in a Ku Klux Klan robe in a 1984 school yearbook photo. In his statement, the Democrat apologized for the “racist and offensive” image, according to the Washington Post. Meanwhile, people on both sides of the aisle are calling for Northam to resign immediately.

As the Inquisitr reported today, a 1984 yearbook image from Eastern Virginia Medical School was released, allegedly showing Northam in a deeply racist costume. In the picture, one individual appears in a KKK robe and hat, while another appears in blackface. The person in blackface grins while holding a beer, and a quote below the image jokes about drinking.

“There are more old drunks than old doctors in this world so I think I’ll have another beer,” it reads.

Northam didn’t clarify which of the people he was in the image, but apologized for being a part of it.

“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,” the 59-year-old 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.”

Both Democrats and Republicans are outraged at the revelation and are calling for the governor to resign.

Representative Ro Khanna of California, a Democrat, said that Northam should accept responsibility for his behavior. Democrat Kamala Harris from California said that leaders should be held to a higher standard and that he should step aside. Republican Jack Wilson, chairman of the Virginia GOP, said that “racism has no place in Virginia,” and said Northam should resign immediately.

Progressive advocacy group MoveOn also called for Northam to resign immediately and said that there are no excuses for “such a racist display.”

Kathryn Watson, a reporter for CBS, pointed out that Northam’s Virginia Military Institute yearbook listed one of his nicknames as “Coonman.”

Despite the scandal, Northam, who is a former Army doctor and neurosurgeon, has not said if he will resign, and his comments seem to indicate that he won’t.

“I recognize that it will take time and serious effort to heal the damage this conduct has caused,” the statement says. “I am ready to do that important work.”

Northam was elected in 2017 and has recently faced criticism for comments around third-trimester abortions, a law about which is currently being debated in the Virginia legislature.