Virginia Democratic Governor Ralph Northam is now denying that he appeared in a blackface photo, which was found in his medical school yearbook issued in 1984. According to a tweet from CNN, the governor told one of their sources that he’s not in it, despite a previous apology and admission to the contrary. The photo is of a man in blackface, standing next to another person donning a Ku Klux Klan (KKK) uniform.
“Earlier today, a website published a photograph of me from my 1984 medical school yearbook in a costume that is clearly racist and offensive,” he said in his apology. “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 publication of the photo has triggered calls for Northam to resign, but it looks like he isn’t prepared to go out without a fight. He vowed to finish his term in a subsequent video posted on his Twitter page.
As CNN notes, the photo has undermined Northam’s previously positive track record in the state. Throughout his career, he has benefitted from a huge amount of support from the African American community, but now the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus has asked him to resign the governorship.
One of the caucus’ members told CNN that during a meeting with Northam, the governor said that he could not remember being in the photo. Later, after more questions were asked, he reportedly amended his story and said that he did not know if he was the person in blackface or the one in the KKK uniform.
The caucus wasn’t the only legislators to call for Northam to resign. Virginia House and Senate Democrats have also called for him to step down. As ABC 7 reports, former Vice President Joe Biden has also issued a statement via Twitter, in which he encouraged the governor to vacate his post.
“Governor Northam has lost all moral authority and should resign immediately…” the tweet read.
Other prominent Democrats — some of whom have announced runs for president — have also denounced both the image and Northam. These include Julian Castro, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren, and Kamala Harris.
The military school that Northam attended — the Virginia Military Institute — still displays Confederate memorabilia. There have also been reports that his page in their notebook lists a racial slur as Northam’s nickname, further indicating a history of racism.
Ralph Northam is a former pediatric neurosurgeon and military doctor.