Virginia Governor in Racist Photo From 35-Year-Old Yearbook

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By Linda Cicoira — Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat who grew up in the Onancock area, admitted Friday to being in a “racist and offensive” photograph printed in a 1984 medical school yearbook that showed two people — one was in blackface makeup and the other was wearing the traditional hood and robe of the hate group, the Ku Klux Klan. It was unclear which person in the photo was then med-student.

“Earlier today, a website published a photograph of me from my 1984 medical school yearbook in a costume that is clearly racist and offensive,” the governor stated. “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.”

“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,” he continued. “But I want to be clear, I understand how this decision shakes Virginians’ faith in that commitment. I recognize that it will take time and serious effort to heal the damage this conduct has caused. I am ready to do that important work. The first step is to offer my sincerest apology and to state my absolute commitment to living up to the expectations Virginians set for me when they elected me to be their governor.”

The lower half of a yearbook page included several posed pictures of a recognizable “Ralph Shearer Northam” and the photo in question.

Leaders from both parties, the NAACP, and others from across the state have called for the governor’s resignation. He reportedly answered that he intends to finish out his term, which ends in 2022.

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