Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring admitted Wednesday that he wore blackface, increasing the political turmoil for the state’s Democratic Party.
“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,” Mark Herring said in a statement released Wednesday. “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.”
This comes against the backdrop of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam reportedly weighing his options after defying calls for him to resign over his own blackface incident. On Friday, Northam apologized for appearing in a photograph of a person dressed in blackface and another person in a Ku Klux Klan robe from his 1984 medical school yearbook. One day later, at a bizarre press conference, the governor denied that he was one of those people in the picture but admitted to applying black shoe polish to his face for a Michael Jackson dance competition.
“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,” he added, opening the door to a possible resignation.
At the same time, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, an African-American Democrat, has been defending himself from a sexual assault allegation. His accuser claims that an unwanted encounter happened at the Democratic National Convention in 2004. Fairfax has denied the claim.
If the governor resigns, Fairfax would be next in line to replace Northam. Herring follows the lieutenant governor in the constitutional line of succession.
Members of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus attended a meeting Wednesday morning in Herring’s office and ignored reporters when asked if they still support the attorney general, the Washington Post reported.
“This is freakin screwed up!” State Sen. L. Louise Lucas, one of the caucus members, texted while in the meeting, The Post said.