The Democratic governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam, vowed to carry out his term despite calls to resign after an old yearbook photo of him in a racist costume surfaced on Friday.

In a video posted on Twitter, the physician-turned-politician apologises for his past actions but promises to 'work hard' to regain back trust.

He said:

I cannot change the decisions I made, nor can I undo the harm my behaviour caused then and today.

I accept responsibility for my past actions and am ready to do the hard work of regaining your trust.

I have spent the last year as your governor fighting for a Virginia that works better for all people.

I am committed to continuing that fight for the remainder of my term.

His video statement comes after The Virginian-Pilot published a copy of his 1984 medical school yearbook that includes a photo of a person wearing the white robes and hood of the Ku Klux Klan and another person in blackface.

While the 59-year-old governor didn’t say which costume he was wearing, he did confirm that the photograph shows “me from my 1984 medical school yearbook in a costume that is clearly racist and offensive”.

The yearbook also contains pictures of a young Northam wearing a cowboy hat, in a suit, and posing by a car. It also includes a quote which reads: “There are more old drunks than old doctors in this world so I think I’ll have another beer.”

The picture caused outrage amongst politicians, who have since urged him to resign.

But the governor stood by his decision to continue. In a previous written statement, Northam wrote:

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. 

That photo, and the racist and offensive attitudes it represents, does not reflect that person I am today or the way I have conducted myself as a soldier, a doctor and a public servant,

Northam was elected governor of Virginia in 2017, and previously served in the US army, worked as a pediatric neurologist and attended Eastern Virginia Medical School.

He is governor of a state which has been grappling with its racist Jim Crow history. In July 2017, 50 members of the Ku Klux Klan rallied in Charlottesville, Virginia and footage of a large group of white nationalist marching in the city chanting "Jews will not replace us" that same year shocked the world.

HT New York Post

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