In a face-to-face meeting, it’s reported that members of the Virginia Black Caucus said Gov. Ralph Northam could not say if he was in blackface or a Ku Klux Klan hood and robes, as can be seen in the photo from the embattled governor’s college days.
The photos are from Northam’s time at medical school at the Virginia Military Institute. The governor admitted he was in the photo that shows two people in the “racist costumes,” but didn’t say which one he was, the shorter person in KKK uniform or the taller person in blackface.
“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,” the governor wrote.
Despite reports that Northam said he couldn’t remember on Friday which person he was, now, on Saturday morning, Northam is claiming he wasn’t even in the photos and suggested he’d use facial recognition software to prove it.
It’s reported Northam will make a statement at 2:30 p.m. Saturday given he’s “resisting pressure to quit …now says isn’t of him…”
But Virginia General Assembly member Lamont Bagby told a CNN reporter that Northam “could not tell them” which racist costume he wore.
“I spoke to @delegatebagby this morning of the @VaBlackCaucus- he was in the meeting with @RalphNortham yesterday and he confirmed that the Governor could not tell them which person he was in the racist photo.. the person in blackface or the person in the KKK hood.”
“From Bagby’s perspective, while both images are offensive, the KKK hood is a much bigger issue for him. He said the Caucus wanted to give Northam the chance to explain himself- but their conversation ultimately led to them asking him to step down.”
Just after midnight Friday, media consultant Ben Tribbett said he was told the same.
“Oof. Hearing during Governor’s meeting with black caucus tonight he could not remember if he was in the blackface or in the KKK hood.”
Meanwhile, a New York Times correspondent reported that “Northam is calling Va Dems and telling them that’s *not* him in the yearbook photo and he will make a statement this afternoon to say the same. In other words, he is NOT quitting as of right now.”
And shortly after, the same reporter now says he can confirm that Northam “has reached out to prominent Virginia Democrats informing them that he now does not believe it was him in the photo. He also does not plan to resign.”
But the Virginia Democratic Party doubled-down on its call for Northam to resign immediately.
The List of Public Figures, Including 2020 Presidential Candidates, Demanding Northam Resign is Growing
Vice President Joe Biden said Northam had “lost all moral authority” should resign.
Senator Kamala Harris, also running for president in 2020, tweeted “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.”
“It doesn’t matter if he is a Republican or a Democrat. This behavior was racist and unconscionable. Governor Northam should resign,” tweeted Julián Castro, former San Antonio mayor and Democrat running in the 2020 presidential race.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a possible 2020 candidate for president, said, “These racist images are deeply disturbing. Hatred and discrimination have no place in our country and must not be tolerated, especially from our leaders – Republican or Democrat. Northam must resign.
And another presidential candidate, Sen. Cory Booker, tweeted late Friday night. His refrain the same.
“These images arouse centuries of anger, anguish, and racist violence and they’ve eroded all confidence in Gov. Northam’s ability to lead. We should expect more from our elected officials. He should resign.”
NAACP president Derrick Johnson made an immediate call for Northam to leave.
“Blackface in any manner is always racist and never okay. No matter the party affiliation, we can not stand for such behavior, which is why the @NAACP is calling for the resignation of Virginia Governor @RalphNortham”
Democrats and Republicans politicians and groups also are calling on Northam to resign. As has the editorial board of the Richmond Times-Dispatch. The chorus has grown.
“He should, for the good of Virginia, step down from its highest office and allow Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax to succeed him.”
Former Virginia Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, said Northam is a friend, but added his friend must leave office.
“This has been a heartbreaking day. Ralph Northam is my friend and he served well as my Lt. Governor and as Governor. His actions on display in this photo were racist, unacceptable and inexcusable at any age and any time. The situation that he has put himself and the Commonwealth of Virginia in is untenable. It’s time for Ralph to step down, and for the Commonwealth to move forward.”
Northam Stated His ‘Absolute Commitment’ to Staying in Office to Serve the Virginians Who Voted For Him
“Earlier today, a website published a photograph of me from my 1984 medical school yearbook in a costume that is clearly racist and offensive. 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,” the statement continues. This behavior is not in keeping with whom I am today and the values I have fought for throughout my career in the military, in medicine, and in public service.”
“But I want to be clear, I understand how this decision shakes Virginians’ faith in that commitment. I recognize that it will take time and serious effort to heal the damage this conduct has caused. I am ready to do that important work. The first step is to offer my sincerest apology and to state my absolute commitment to living up to the expectations Virginians set for me when they elected me to be their governor.”
Friday night, hours after he released his written statement, Northam posted a video statement.
“My fellow Virginians, earlier today I released a statement apologizing for behavior in my past that falls far short of the standard you set for me when you elected me to be your governor. I believe you deserve to hear directly from me.”
By Saturday morning, protesters had descended on the Governor’s mansion.