Virginia Governor apologises, but does not resign after racist yearbook picture

Virginia Governor apologises, but does not resign after racist yearbook picture

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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