Virginia Legislative Black Caucus: Northam photos 'rip off the scabs of an excruciatingly painful history'

Virginia Legislative Black Caucus: Northam photos 'rip off the scabs of an excruciatingly painful history'
© Greg Nash

The Virginia Legislative Black Caucus called on Gov. Ralph Northam (D) to resign Friday after he acknowledged his appearance in a photo showing a man wearing blackface and another dressed in a Ku Klux Klan robe.

“We are still processing what we have seen about the Governor but unequivocally say that what has been revealed is disgusting, reprehensible, and offensive. We feel complete betrayal. The legacy of slavery, racism, and Jim Crow has been an albatross around the necks of African Americans for over 400 years,” the group said in a statement. 


“These pictures rip off the scabs of an excruciatingly painful history and are a piercing reminder of this nation’s sins. Those who would excuse the pictures are just as culpable,” it continued.

Northam apologized on Friday after a photo surfaced from his medical school yearbook depicting two men in blackface and KKK garb. He acknowledged he was in the photo but did not clarify which man.

“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 from Northam's yearbook at the Virginia Military Institute shows him listed with the nickname “coonman,” a racial slur, underneath his yearbook entry. The photo surfaced after the photo depicting the two men in blackface and KKK robes.

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,” Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisOn The Money: Retail sales drop in latest sign of weakening economy | Fast-food workers strike for minimum wage | US officials raise concerns over Mexico's handling of energy permits Biden scolds Republicans for not wearing masks during Capitol attack Biden and the new Congress must protect Americans from utility shutoffs MORE (D-Calif.), one of two African-Americans running for president in 2020, tweeted.

“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.