Virginia newspaper calls for Northam to resign

Virginia newspaper calls for Northam to resign
© Greg Nash

The Richmond Times-Dispatch published a blistering editorial Friday evening calling on Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) to resign after he acknowledge he appeared in a picture showing a man wearing blackface and another dressed in a Ku Klux Klan robe.

“We all act foolishly in our youth. But a college graduate, studying to be a physician, in a state with Virginia’s troubled racial history, should know better than to reduce that history to a callous joke. The photograph reveals a lack of adult judgment that is disturbing,” the paper’s editorial board wrote.

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“It does not erase Northam’s service in the military or his compassion as a physician. It does, however, strongly suggest that he should, for the good of Virginia, step down from its highest office and allow Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax to succeed him.” 

The paper praised Northam’s service in government and the military, where he served as an Army medical officer, but said the picture will “permanently impair his ability to act as an effective governor."

Northam apologized Friday for appearing in the picture from his medical school yearbook, though he did not clarify if he was wearing blackface or the KKK robe.

“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,” he said in a statement. 

The photo obtained by The Virginian-Pilot on Friday came from the 1984 yearbook housed in the Eastern Virginia Medical School library.

Another page in the yearbook showed that Northam listed the nickname “coonman,” a racial slur, underneath his yearbook entry.

The Virginia governor quickly faced mounting bipartisan calls for his resignation.

“Leaders are called to a higher standard, and the stain of racism should have no place in the halls of government. The Governor of Virginia should step aside so the public can heal and move forward together,” tweeted Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisTrump says he'll watch Democratic debate while en route to Japan 'because I have to' The Hill's Morning Report - Democratic debates: Miami nice or spice? 5 things to watch in the Democratic debates MORE (D-Calif.), one of two African-Americans running for president in 2020. 

“It doesn’t matter if he is a Republican or a Democrat. This behavior was racist and unconscionable. Governor Northam should resign,” Julián Castro, another Democratic 2020 presidential candidate, said. 

“What Ralph Northam did was unforgivable. Given his statements on the right to life coupled with the most recent revelations, he has lost the moral authority to continue to govern and should resign immediately,” the Virginia Republican Party said in its statement.