Gov. Ralph Northam: I Am Not Either of the People in the Photo

Ralph Northam Racist photo

Getty Gov. Northam pictured during an interview while on the gubernatorial campaign trail in August 2017.

Gov. Ralph Northam said that he is not either person in the photo from the 1984 Eastern Virginia Medical School. The picture shows a man in a KKK robe and a man in blackface. The governor said that Friday, February 1, was the first time he had ever seen the page and that he did not purchase the yearbook on the year in question. Northam said in a prepared statement, “When I was confronted with the images yesterday, I was appalled that they appeared on my page, but I believe, then and now, that I am not either of the people in that photo.”

The embattled governor made the remarks in the Virginia statehouse in Richmond on February 2, less than 24 hours after a photo emerged from Northam’s medical school yearbook appeared. The picture on the governor’s page showed a man in a Ku Klux Klan costume and another person wearing blackface. The governor initially apologized for the photo.


Northam Said He Once Donned Blackface to Dress as Michael Jackson at a Party in 1982

The governor also said that he once donned blackface while studying in San Antonio during a party where he dressed as Michael Jackson. Northam said the Michael Jackson costume incident took place in 1982. Northam said that won a dance contest at the party because he had learned to do the moonwalk. Northam added that he made the blackface by putting shoe polish on his face. Northam said that he was a big fan of Michael Jackson’s.

The governor said, “I have made mistakes in my past… This has been hurtful.”


Northam Said He Did Not Buy the 1984 Yearbook & Was Not Involved in Its Publication

Hours later, reports emerged that Northam was saying it wasn’t him in the photo. At the time of his apology, Northam said that he had no memory of the photo and that he was not involved in the publication of the yearbook. The governor said that a friend told him that there had been numerous photos placed on the wrong pages throughout the book.


Northam Has Been Hounded by Calls From Both Parties to Resign

This came among growing calls from within both sides of the aisle for Northam to resign. While the governor has said that he will prove it is not him in the photo. The New York Times reported that Northam was making those claims in phone calls to the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, the Virginia House and Senate Democrats and the Democratic Party of Virginia.


Northam Said His Nickname in Med School Was ‘Goose’ Not ‘Coonman’

Northam attended Eastern Virginia Medical School, prior to going into politics, he had worked as a pediatric neurosurgeon. After the photo was released, CBS News reported that an earlier yearbook gave Northam’s med school nickname as “Coonman.” Northam said that that nickname came from older students and that it was not the name he went by among his friends. His nickname to friends was “Goose.”


Northam Said Justin Fairfax Would Be ‘Ready to Take Over’ as Governor’

justin fairfax

GettyJustin Fairfax, the lieutenant governor of Virginia

If Northam was to resign, Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax would take over the role. During his February 2 press conference, Northam referred to Fairfax as being doing a great job and called the lieutenant as being “very supportive.” Northam also said that Fairfax would “ready to take over” as governor.

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