Ralph Northam, the Democratic governor of Virginia apologized on Friday after a yearbook photo emerged of two men wearing blackface and Klan outfits. The photo appeared on Northam’s yearbook page from 1984.
Said Northam: “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. 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.”
Northam released a video later on Friday evening that said he would continue to serve out his term.
Said Northam: “I accept responsibility for my past actions, and I am ready to do the hard work of regaining your trust.”
On Saturday morning, Northam was claiming that he did not appear in the photograph, the NYT reports: “With the governor and his top advisers gathered in the executive residence next to the State Capitol in Richmond, the Democrat familiar with Mr. Northam’s calls said the governor was determined to prove it was not him in the photograph and was even considering using facial recognition software. The governor, this Democrat said, wanted to take responsibility on Friday night, which was why he apologized for appearing in the picture without acknowledging which person he was in the image.”
Friday evening there were growing calls for Northam’s resignation.
Said Jack Wilson, chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia: “Racism has no place in Virginia. These pictures are wholly inappropriate. If Governor Northam appeared in blackface or dressed in a KKK robe, he should resign immediately.”
Former HUD Secretary Julián Castro was the first 2020 Democratic presidential candidate to call on Northam to resign.
He was followed by Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, Sherrod Brown, John Delaney, and potential candidates Eric Swalwell, John Hickenlooper, and Terry McAuliffe.
And NJ Governor Phil Murphy called on Northam to resign.
Said Murphy to Chris Hayes: “We’re the party of Barack Obama. We’re the party of inclusion. We’ve got a president who wants to divide us. I’m a former member of the national board of the NAACP. The Ku Klux Klan was a terrorist––is a terrorist organization…I don’t see the governor’s got any other choice other than to step aside.”
CNN’s Don Lemon addressed the controversy on his show.
Said Lemon: “There are certain situations…where there’s no ‘both sides.’ There’s no both sides to racism. There’s no both sides to sexism. There’s no both sides to fact or non-fact and reality and non-reality. There’s no both sides to a truth and a lie. There’s no both sides to this….If you’re making an excuse for it, you need to check yourself. If you even thought it was okay or you’re somebody like Ralph Northam, then you owe people like me a huge apology before you get on your high horse and get upset…Democrats who have called out President Trump for his racist remarks cannot try to sweep this one under the rug just because Ralph Northam is one of their own.”