Virginia Governor Ralph Northam (D) just issued a statement acknowledging that it was him wearing a racist costume in his 1984 medical school yearbook.
However, the embattled Virginia governor, who was elected in 2017, is refusing calls to resign.
“Earlier today, a website published a photograph of me from my 1984 medical school yearbook in a costume that is clearly racist and offensive,” Northam stated. “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,” he added. “But I want to be clear, I understand how this decision shakes Virginians’ faith in that commitment… The first step is to offer any 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.”
STATEMENT FROM NORTHAM APOLOGIZING FOR YEARBOOK pic.twitter.com/NB646Gkh4m
— Mike Valerio (@MikevWUSA) February 1, 2019
On Friday, a photo of Northam’s 1984 East Virginia Medical School yearbook emerged, in which two men — one in blackface and one in a Ku Klux Klan outfit — are seen posing with the caption “There are more old drunks than old doctors in this world so I think I’ll have another beer.” It’s not clear which costumed man is Northam, and his statement did not elaborate on the photo in question.
The calls for Northam to resign mounted on Twitter. Symone Sanders, who was press secretary for Senator Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vermont) 2016 presidential campaign, said “Virginians deserve more” in a tweet calling for Northam’s resignation. Guy Cecil, chairman of the liberal PrioritiesUSA Super PAC, also called for the Virginia governor to step down. Some used the moment to call on conservatives to do the same thing for racist behavior from their side.
“Hey conservatives, watch how easy this is. Gov. Ralph Northam should step down,” tweeted Chicago Tribune columnist Rex Huppke. “I don’t care if he’s a Democrat or a liberal or a freakin’ unicorn. I don’t care how sorry he is now that the photo is out. Beat it. Bye. So long.”
This is not a clear response. The people of Virginia deserve more. Honestly, if this were a Republican – especially Trump – we would be calling for his resignation. Ralph Northam needs to resign. https://t.co/4s1zodLP5O
— Symone D. Sanders (@SymoneDSanders) February 1, 2019
I believe in personal forgiveness & public repentance. That is not the same as deserving the confidence bestowed in our elected officials. The picture was horrifying and deserves a clear response. Ralph Northam should resign. https://t.co/cZBbzYeMFQ
— Guy Cecil (@guycecil) February 1, 2019
Hey conservatives, watch how easy this is: Gov. Ralph Northam should step down. I don't care if he's a Democrat or a liberal or a freakin' unicorn. I don't care how sorry he is now that the photo is out. Beat it. Bye. So long.
— Rex Huppke (@RexHuppke) February 1, 2019
If Northam resigns, Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax, who is black, would become the next Virginia governor. As of this writing, however, Northam has not made any statements responding to calls for his resignation.
Jake Shepherd is a freelance writer from Cleveland, Ohio. He enjoys poring through financial disclosure statements, spirited debate, and good scotch. He remains eternally optimistic about the Browns. Email him at jake.d.shepherd.21 (at) hotmail (dot) com.