- Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is fielding bipartisan calls to resign after a racist photo featured on his 1984 yearbook page surfaced.
- Northam held a bizarre press conference on Saturday denying that he was in the photo, but admitting he had worn blackface on at least one separate occasion.
- The yearbook itself has also drawn scrutiny over its oversight, after local Virginia media outlets uncovered another photo featuring a man in blackface.
The 1984 yearbook that embroiled Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam in controversy over a racist photo on his page featured at least one other photo of a man in blackface, local Virginia news outlets reported on Saturday.
Northam held a bizarre press conference Saturday afternoon denying that he was in the photo on his yearbook page, which featured a man in blackface standing next to a person dressed in a Ku Klux Klan-style robe and hood. But Northam also admitted that he worn blackface in a separate incident as part of a Michael Jackson costume.
“I didn’t realise at the time that it was as offensive as I have since learned,” Northam told reporters.
Amid demands from lawmakers across the political spectrum that he resign, Northam said Saturday he would remain governor.
Meanwhile, speculation has begun mounting about the creation of the 1984 yearbook, and how racist photos could have been published.
A second photo featuring blackface, according to a copy of the yearbook obtained by The Virginian-Pilot, shows a man in dressed in women’s clothing, with a caption saying, “Who ever thought Diana Ross would make it to Medical School!”
— Adriana De Alba (@13AdrianaDeAlba) February 2, 2019
The newspaper reported that the East Virginia Medical School yearbook was largely student-run, and it’s unclear if any faculty oversaw its publication.
School alumni also said they remembered submitting their own photos to be published on their pages, though Northam said during his press conference that his former classmates told him multiple photos in the yearbook were mistakenly published on the wrong pages, and he believed such an error occurred on his page.
In a statement published Saturday morning, the president of the Eastern Virginia Medical School said he was convening an “urgent meeting” involving board members and senior leadership to address the incident.
“We cannot change the events of the past, but we can use these events as reminders of the importance of our ongoing work toward diversity and inclusion. This is a time for self-reflection and humility,” President Richard Homan said. “On behalf of our beloved EVMS, I sincerely apologise for the past transgressions of your trust.”
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