Associated Press

Governor Finally Speaks Live About Crisis

Doesn't Believe He's in Racist Photo But Says He Dressed as Michael Jackson

February 02, 2019 - 5:27 pm

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The Latest on Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and a racist photo in a 1984 yearbook (all times local):

5 p.m.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has admitted to wearing blackface while dressing up like Michael Jackson at a dance contest around the time he was in medical school.

Northam made the admission Saturday at a press conference where he denied being in a photo that shows a man in blackface standing next to someone in a Ku Klux Klan costume.

That image appeared alongside photos of Northam in his medical school yearbook in 1984 and has sparked a torrent of calls for his resignation.

The Democratic governor said he darkened his face with "a little bit" of shoe polish for his Michael Jackson costume at a 1984 San Antonio talent show.

Northam said he regrets that he didn't understand "the harmful legacy of an action like that."

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5 p.m.

A man who went to medical school with Ralph Northam says he also didn't buy the class's 1984 yearbook or see it until decades after it was published.

Walt Broadnax is one of two black students who graduated with Northam. He said by phone Saturday that students submitted photos for someone else to lay out.

Broadnax saw his yearbook page for the first time Saturday. He said it turned out how he intended with photos of family and a woman he was dating.

Broadnax defended Northam and said he's not a racist. He said he believes Northam's statement that he wasn't in the photo of a man in blackface standing next to someone in a KKK costume.

He said the school never would have tolerated someone going to a party in blackface.

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4:20 p.m.

Virginia's lieutenant governor says the state needs leaders who can unite people and "help us rise to the better angels of our nature."

If Gov. Ralph Northam were to resign, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax would become the second African-American governor of Virginia.

In his statement issued Saturday, Fairfax doesn't call for Northam to resign because of racist photos on Northam's 1984 yearbook profile page.

But Fairfax does say that he "cannot condone actions from (the governor's) past" that at least "suggest a comfort with Virginia's darker history of white supremacy, racial stereotyping and intimidation."

Northam said Saturday that he hadn't seen photos of one person in blackface and another wearing a Ku Klux Klan until someone showed them to him Friday. He says he won't resign despite widespread calls that he step aside and let Fairfax lead Virginia.

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3 p.m.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has vowed to remain in office despite widespread calls for his resignation after a racist photo surfaced in his yearbook page from more than 30 years ago.

Northam said at a news conference Saturday that he had prematurely apologized for appearing in a picture of a person in blackface and another wearing a Ku Klux Klan outfit. The photo appeared in his 1984 medical school yearbook.

The Democratic governor said Saturday that he, in fact, was not in the photo and had never even seen the yearbook until Friday.

His refusal to resign signals a potential bruising fight between Northam and his former supporters. Leaders in both parties have repeatedly urged Northam to resign, saying he's lost the public's trust.

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1:35 p.m.

The president of Eastern Virginia Medical School says a racist photo that appears in the 1984 student yearbook is "shockingly abhorrent."

In a statement on the school's website , President Richard Homan said the photo of one person in blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan hood is "absolutely antithetical" to the school's principles, morals and values.

The photo was on the profile page of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, who says he believes he's not one of the men in the picture.

Homan also apologized for "past transgressions of your trust." He said he'll convene a meeting of leadership and others to address the issue. ___

12:50 p.m.

North Carolina's governor is calling on Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam to resign because of a photograph on Northam's yearbook profile page.

In an emailed statement, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said the photograph is both reprehensible and deeply disappointing. He said the photo comes "with pain beyond what many of us can even understand."

Cooper called Northam's resignation "the only way forward."

A photo from a 1984 medical school yearbook surfaced Friday, showing a person in blackface and another wearing a Ku Klux Klan hood. The photo was on Northam's profile page.

Northam was scheduled to speak publicly Saturday afternoon. ___

12:25 p.m.

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called a photograph on Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam's yearbook profile page "racist and contrary to fundamental American values."

She said Saturday via Twitter that she is joining her colleagues in Virginia in calling for Northam "to do the right thing" so that the people in Virginia can heal and move on.

The Virginia Democratic Party on Saturday called on Northam to resign after the photo from a 1984 medical school yearbook surfaced Friday. The photo shows a person in blackface and another wearing a Ku Klux Klan hood.

Northam was scheduled to speak to the public Saturday afternoon.

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11:35 a.m.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is planning a news conference where he's expected to say he's not resigning and believes he was not in a racist picture featured in his 1984 medical yearbook.

Northam's office on Saturday said the 2:30 p.m. news conference would take place at the Executive Mansion.

Northam is calling Democrats ahead of the news conference to try and shore up support. A wide swath of Democrats and Republicans have called on Northam to resign after he apologized Friday for appearing in a photo in which one person is dressed in blackface and another is wearing a full Ku Klux Klan uniform.

But Northam said he now believes he was not in the picture and can prove that it wasn't him, said state Sen. Louise Lucas. ___

10:45 a.m.

A Virginia Democrat who has spoken with Gov. Ralph Northam has told The Associated Press that the governor now does not believe he was in a racist picture in his 1984 medical yearbook and has no immediate plans to resign.

The Democrat was not authorized to speak on the record to detail a private conversation.

Northam is calling state lawmakers Saturday to try and gain support so he can remain in office, the Democrat said.

Northam has faced a torrent of criticism and calls for his resignation after a photo surfaced from decades ago that showed two people in racist costumes: One person is dressed in blackface, and another is wearing a full Ku Klux Klan uniform.The photo appeared in Northam's 1984 medical school yearbook. On Friday, Northam apologized for appearing in the photo.

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10:30 a.m.

Top Republicans in the Virginia General Assembly are calling on Gov. Ralph Northam to resign after he acknowledged appearing in a photo wearing a racist costume.

House Speaker Kirk Cox and Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment said Saturday the governor had lost the public's confidence, and it is in the state's best interests for him to step down.

The Republicans join a growing chorus of elected officials in Virginia and elsewhere calling for Northam's resignation.

Northam apologized Friday for appearing in a photo in which one person is dressed in blackface and another is wearing a full Ku Klux Klan uniform, but has not said he will resign. The photo appeared in his 1984 medical school yearbook.

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Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam appears to have almost no choice but to resign after losing support from virtually the entire state Democratic party and other key allies, who urged the governor to leave office because of a racist photo in which he appeared more than 30 years ago.

The Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, the state House Democratic Caucus and the state Senate Democratic Caucus all called on Northam to resign late Friday, along with several key progressive groups that have been some of the governor's closest political allies.

Their calls for Northam to step down came in a wave late Friday, after the Democrat had apologized for appearing in a photo in which one person is dressed in blackface and another is wearing a full Ku Klux Klan uniform. The photo appeared in his 1984 medical school yearbook.

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