Virginia’s Attorney General Says He Wore Blackface in College

HerringForAG Mark Herring

Virginia’s Attorney General, Mark Herring, says he once wore blackface to a party when he was in college. The announcement comes as the governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam, faces calls to resign over a racist photo from his medical school year book page. Virginia’s lieutenant governor, Justin Fairfax, is also facing allegations that he sexually assaulted a woman in 2004. Fairfax has denied those allegations. Herring would be the next in line to be governor of Virginia if both Northam and Fairfax resigned.

After a meeting with the legislative black caucus on Wednesday morning, Herring issued a statement admitting that he and some of his college friends “put on wigs and dark make up” and dressed up as their favorite rappers when they went to a party. Herring says he was nineteen years old at the time and stressed that he feels deep shame and regret about his actions.

He wrote, “In 1980, when I was a 19 year old undergraduate in college, some friends suggested we attend a party dressed like rappers we listened to at the time, like Kurtis Blow, and perform a song. It sounds ridiculous even now writing it. But because of our ignorance and glib attitudes — and because we did not have an appreciation for the experiences and perspectives of others — we put on wigs and brown make up. That was a one time occurrence and I accept full responsibility for my conduct.” You can read Herring’s full statement here.

Herring continued, “Although the shame of that moment has haunted me for decades, and though my disclosure of it now pains me immensely, what I am feeling in no way compares to the betrayal, the shock, and the deep pain that Virginians of color may be feeling.”

Herring Has Been Calling for the Governor of Virginia to Resign After Racist Photos from his Yearbook Surfaced

Virginia governor Ralph Northam has faced calls to resign ever since his medical school year book surfaced. Northam’s year book page includes a disturbing photograph featuring one person wearing a Klansman’s hood and another wearing blackface. Northam initially said that he was one of the people in the photograph, but later said he was not in the photo at all. He has vowed not to step down as governor.

Last week, Mark Herring released a statement saying that it was “no longer possible” for Northam to lead the Commonwealth of Virginia. Herring pledged to support Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax if Northam steps down. He didn’t refer directly to the racist year book photo that surfaced from Northam’s medical school. Herring wrote, “It is no longer possible for Governor Northam to lead our Commonwealth and it is time for him to step down. I have spoken with Lieutenant Governor Fairfax and assured him that, should he ascend to the governorship, he will have my complete support and and commitment to ensuring his success and the success of our Commonwealth.”

Lieutenant Governor Fairfax has said, about Northam’s year book page, that he “cannot condone the actions from his past that, at the very least, suggest a comfort with Virginia’s darker history of white supremacy, racial stereotyping, and intimidation.”

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