Northam survives political firestorm, seems ready to carry on

February 8, 2019

According to The Associated Press, Governor Ralph Northam informed his staff Friday afternoon that he will not resign his office over a recent racist photo scandal and recently made abortion comments.


Here is some background:


At an afternoon press conference in last Saturday in Richmond, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam said that he is not one of two people pictured in racist garb on his Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook page.


He also said he never saw the 1984 photo until Friday, that he did not submit the photo for publication and that he will not resign from his office as governor. Governors cannot be impeached for racial issues. 


He also said that the public would have to take his word that it is not him; and that he will work to gather evidence to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that it is not him, including using facial recognition technology. 


Northam responded on Friday, in writing and in a video, to his medical yearbook photo page, where there are two people pictured in a photo, one wearing blackface and one in a Ku Klux Klan robe and hood. EVMS said Saturday that there are other photos in that year's student yearbook in which people appear in blackface. 


Northam said on Friday that he is one of the people in the photo is him, but doesn't say which one:


“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.”


On Saturday, however, Northam contradicted himself and said that he was not in the photo and that the photo may have made its way onto the page by whomever was laying out the yearbook. He said he applied black shoe polish to his face one time to perform a Michael Jackson song in a contest and has apologized for it.


Northam's name has also been linked, in print, to another pejorative used to describe African Americans.


Northam was already in hot water, before the photo, the result of controversial comments he made earlier this week about late-term abortions, where he seemed to be condoning what some people are describing as "infanticide."


 Virginia Governor Ralph Northam. (Courtesy photo.)






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