Alabama Governor Kay Ivey apologizes for wearing blackface in college

Updated: Aug. 29, 2019 at 6:00 PM EDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WBRC) - Governor Kay Ivey issued an apology Thursday on a decades-old skit that featured her wearing blackface.

The governor emailed this statement and a video version of the apology.

"I have now been made aware of a taped interview that my then-fiance, Ben LaRavia, and I gave to the Auburn student radio station back when I was SGA Vice President."

"Even after listening to the tape, I sincerely do not recall either the skit, which evidently occurred at a Baptist Student Union party, or the interview itself, both which occurred 52-years ago. Even though Ben is the one on tape remembering the skit – and I still don't recall ever dressing up in overalls or in blackface – I will not deny what is the obvious."

"As such, I fully acknowledge – with genuine remorse – my participation in a skit like that back when I was a senior in college."

"While some may attempt to excuse this as acceptable behavior for a college student during the mid-1960s, that is not who I am today, and it is not what my Administration represents all these years later."

“I offer my heartfelt apologies for the pain and embarrassment this causes, and I will do all I can – going forward – to help show the nation that the Alabama of today is a far cry from the Alabama of the 1960s. We have come a long way, for sure, but we still have a long way to go.”

In the radio interview, Ivey’s fiance Ben referenced the governor wearing black paint on her face.

Below is the audio from the college radio interview.

In the wake of Gov. Ivey’s public acknowledgement, other political figures have released reactionary statements.

A taped statement from Alabama Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton says in part:

“When she (Governor Ivey) talked to me, the person that I know who she is now, I felt that her apology was sincere. We’ve worked together on a lot of different things. I know that when I’ve called the governor when there has been an imbalance of racial makeup on committees, and I’ve asked her to appoint African Americans on committees she immediately did it. So I was willing to accept her apology on that and to talk to her further about it. Going forward I ask the governor that this hopefully could become a teachable moment, and that we can start a dialogue on race in the state.”

Alabama GOP Chairman Terry Lathan issued this statement:

“The Alabama Republican party appreciates and supports Governor Kay Ivey taking ownership of and responsibility for this 50 plus year old incident. While it occurred when she was a college student, Governor Ivey has stood up, admitted her mistake and offered a sincere apology, though she has no recollection of the event. Her extraordinary record of public service shows her ability to work with all people regardless of race, religion or party affiliation. We stand with Governor Ivey uniting our state for a greater future.”

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin emailed this statement:

“Blackface is a horrible stigmatization of the black experience, a practice with roots that are planted firmly in our nation’s racist past. Gov. Ivey, an apology is the right place to start, but that’s not enough. Not when you serve in the seventh most black state in America. Admitting wrongdoing is the first step toward growth. But it cannot end there. Gov. Ivey, I urge you to continue that healing process by reaching out to the black communities you serve, hearing their needs and making transformational investments in opportunities for black residents who have been disproportionately and systematically disenfranchised. Here in Birmingham, we are working tirelessly to be champions of social justice, to celebrate our diversity and provide opportunity for all. Join us.”

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