Virginia Attorney General Says He Wore Blackface at College Party
Despite calls for his resignation, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) remains in office, following the revelation of a photo on his medical school yearbook page of a man in blackface and another man dressed in a KKK costume. In less than a week, another Virginia official is coming forward to say he wore blackface, too.
Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring released a statement on Wednesday morning, apologizing for wearing blackface in college.
“In 1980, when I was a 19-year-old undergraduate in college, some friends suggested we attend a party dressed like rappers we listened to at the time, like Kurtis Blow, and perform a song,” Herring wrote in a statement.
“It sounds ridiculous even now writing it. But, because of our ignorance and glib attitudes and because we did not have an appreciation for the experiences and perspectives of others we dressed up and put on wigs and brown makeup.”
“That I have contributed to the pain Virginians have felt this week is the greatest shame I have ever felt,” Herring added. “In the days ahead, honest conversations and discussions will make it clear whether I can or should continue to serve as attorney general, but no matter where we go from here, I will say that from the bottom of my heart, I am deeply, deeply sorry for the pain that I cause with this revelation.”
Northam’s yearbook photo was revealed on Friday and Herring is actually one of the many officials, including the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, both of Virginia’s U.S. Senators and the Democratic caucuses in both the Virginia House of Delegates and State, who’ve said the governor should resign.
It seems Herring decided to bring any past issues to the forefront, rather than have them revealed.
“The fact that Governor Northam did not reveal these flaws to the public and apologize for them years ago makes it impossible to trust him now,” DiversityInc CEO Luke Visconti wrote in his latest column.
“I’d imagine he must have spent some sleepless nights knowing that it was just a matter of time before this blew up.”
On Friday, Northam apologized for appearing in the picture. But, on Saturday, he said he was not one of the people in the photo.
He acknowledged that he wore blackface at another time when he dressed up as pop superstar Michael Jackson.
Bakari Sellers represented South Carolina’s 90th district in the lower house of the state legislature, from 2006 to 2014, becoming the youngest Black politician in the country at age 22.
“I think that many times white people do not understand what blackface means,” Sellers explained on CNN. “When you have your son going out in blackface for a costume or your son goes to prep school or elite day schools and they dress up in blackface, basically it means you’re calling me n***er.”
“The reason why I say that is because blackface goes back to the mid-19th century where people were dressing up showing them to be lazy, to be ignorant, hypersexual and to be all-out disrespectful to our culture.”
The person who would be taking office if Northam resigns, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, is continuing to face questions over an alleged sexual misconduct incident at the Democratic National Convention in 2004. Fairfax has vehemently denied the allegations.
However, if both Fairfax and Northam were to resign, Herring would be next in line.