Images have surfaced of Virginia Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam‘s medical school yearbook page from 1984, which contained a photograph of two unidentified men, one in blackface and the other in a Ku Klux Klan costume. There have been calls to resign, but the governor refuses.
On Friday, Northam released a statement, which read, “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.”
He also added, “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 admitted he was in the photo but did not say if he was the person in blackface or dressed as member of the KKK, according to the New York Times.
Nonetheless, there have been several calls for him to resign. Sen. Kamala Harris wrote on Twitter, “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.”
Due to even more backlash, he released a video statement on Twitter that said, “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.” See the full video below:
The pressure if on for him to resigns. If he does, Justin Fairfax, the Lieutenant Governor, will become governor, which would make him Virginia’s first Black governor since 1989.