Update: Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam Says He's Not in Racist Yearbook Photo
UPDATE: Feb. 2, 2019 at 4:29 p.m. ET
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said in a statement on Friday that he appeared in a “racist and offensive” photo, but on Saturday, Northam said it wasn’t him in the picture.
“I take credit for recognizing that this was a horrific photo that was on my page, with my name, Ralph Northam, above,” he said, in a press conference. “I looked at it. My first impression, actually, this couldn’t be me.”
“But there was so much hurt that I was feeling, people were calling. So I reached out and apologized to people for this very picture being on my page.”
“And I have continued to discuss that as we have gone forward. And what has happened is that last night, I finally had a chance to sit down and look at the photograph in detail. It is definitely not me. I can tell by looking at it. I have had friends also look at it and tell me it’s not me.”
Northam said that he darkened his skin for a dance contest in San Antonio that same year to imitate Michael Jackson.
The legislative Black Caucus continues to demand Northam’s resignation after his remarks Saturday.
“In light of his public admission and apology for his decision to appear in the photo, he has irrevocably lost the faith and trust of the people he was elected to serve,” the caucus said in a statement. “Changing his public story today now casts further doubt on his ability to regain that trust.”
ORIGINAL STORY: Virginia Legislative Black Caucus ‘Demands’ Governor Resign After Blackface, KKK Photo Surfaces
The Virginia Legislative Black Caucus is calling on Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, to resign, as “it is clear that he can no longer effectively serve as governor.”
A photo released on Friday from Northam’s senior medical school yearbook page shows a man wearing blackface and another wearing a Ku Klux Klan robe.
“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 a statement.
“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 apologized and claimed, “This behavior is not in keeping with who I am today.”
However, the Eastern Virginia Medical School graduate didn’t indicate if he was the man in blackface or wearing the KKK robe.
The picture first began circulating after being posted to Twitter by a right-wing blog Big League Politics, and WTKR shared the page in the yearbook on which the photo appears.
Northam also released a video statement on Twitter:
My fellow Virginians, earlier today I released a statement apologizing for behavior in my past that falls far short of the standard you set for me when you elected me to be your governor. I believe you deserve to hear directly from me.
Ralph Northam (@GovernorVA)
February 2, 2019
The Virginia Legislative Black Caucus had a late night meeting with Northam, and released the following statement:
“We just finished meeting with the governor. We fully appreciate all that he has contributed to our Commonwealth. But given what was revealed today, it is clear that he can no longer effectively serve as governor. It is time for him to resign, so that Virginia can begin the process of healing.”
Northam continues to lose support from key Democrats, including members of the Virginia House Democratic Caucus and Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus “saddened” by the photo. They want him to resign.
Leaders are called to a higher standard, and the stain of racism should have no place in the halls of government. The Governor of Virginia should step aside so the public can heal and move forward together.
Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris)
February 2, 2019
These images arouse centuries of anger, anguish, and racist violence and they’ve eroded all confidence in Gov. Northam’s ability to lead. We should expect more from our elected officials. He should resign.
Cory Booker (@CoryBooker)
February 2, 2019
Northam began his tenure as governor in January 2018, after defeating Republican nominee Ed Gillespie in the 2017 election. He served as the 40th Lieutenant Governor of Virginia from 2014 to 2018.