Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam Faces Firestorm for Racist Photo, Pressured to Resign

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Virginia Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam is under fire to resign after acknowledging Friday he is in a racist photo from his medical school yearbook page showing one person in blackface and another wearing a Ku Klux Klan hood and robe.

Conservative news outlet Big League Politics posted the photo from the 1984 Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook Friday afternoon, setting off a wave of intense political backlash that included calls to step down from within his own party.

The page for Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam in the 1984 yearbook from Eastern Virginia Medical School shows a photo of a person in blackface and another in Ku Klux Klan robes. Northam admitted to being one of the two people in the photo, but not which.
The page for Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam in the 1984 yearbook from Eastern Virginia Medical School shows a photo of a person in blackface and another in Ku Klux Klan robes. Northam admitted to being one of the two people in the photo, but not which.

While Northam has not said which of the two people in the photo is him, he said Friday in a video statement that he accepts responsibility for his past actions and vows to serve out his term.

“I am ready to do the hard work of regaining your trust,” Northam said in the video. “I have spent the last year as your governor fighting for a Virginia that works better for all people. I am committed to continuing that fight for the remainder of my term.

“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,” he said. “That photo, and the racist and offensive attitudes it represents, does not reflect that person I am today or the way I have conducted myself as a soldier, a doctor and a public servant. I am deeply sorry.”

Northam, a pediatrician, was elected in 2017. Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, who was Northam’s running mate and only the second Black person ever elected to statewide office in Virginia, is next in the line of succession.

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