Va. governor apologizes for appearing in yearbook photo featuring blackface, KKK robe; indicates he won’t resign

Va. governor apologizes for appearing in yearbook photo featuring blackface, KKK robe; indicates he won’t resign
The yearbook was from Northam's medical school. (Source: Eastern Virginia Medical School/CNN)

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT/Gray News) - Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said on Friday that he was “deeply sorry” for appearing in a photo that’s “racist and offensive.”

The picture was from a yearbook page featuring Northam. It shows two people in what appears to be blackface and 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. 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. 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.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam

The governor later tweeted a video in which again apologized in much the same way, but indicated he would not heed the growing calls for his resignation.

“I have spent the past year as your governor fighting for a Virginia that works better for all people,” Northam said. “I am committed to continuing that fight through the remainder of my term and living up to the expectations you set for me when you elected me to serve.”

Northam 'committed' to rest of term as Virginia governor

The governor still has not said which of the two people in the photo was him.

The picture first surfaced after being posted to Twitter by a right-wing blog.

Northam, a Democrat, was targeted by conservatives earlier in the week over comments made regarding a bill that would have lessened restrictions on third-trimester abortions.

Republican leaders in the General Assembly called the picture “deeply disturbing."

In a statement before the governor’s apology, House of Delegates Speaker Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights), Senate Majority Leader Thomas Norment (R-James City), House Majority Leader Todd Gilbert (R-Shanandoah) and Senate Rules Committe Chairman Ryan McDougle (R-Hanover) said, “This is a deeply disturbing and offensive photograph in need of an immediate explanation by the governor.”

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