Virginia state Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment edited a Virginia Military Institute yearbook that featured extensive racist slurs and blackface photos, The Virginia Pilot reported.
Norment, a Republican who represents James City County, was the managing editor of The Bomb, the school’s annual yearbook.
The yearbook features multiple photos of men dressed in blackface, the N-word, and references to slurs denigrating Asians and Jews.
The yearbook was published in 1968, the first year black students were allowed to enroll at the institute.
The revelation comes after Virginia Governor Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring both admitted to wearing blackface while in college. Northam is facing mounting calls to resign.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Virginia Senate Leader Tommy Norbert Edited Yearbook Filled With Racist Photos & Slurs
Tommy Norbert, the Republican Senate majority leader who has served in the chamber since 1992, was the editor of “The Bomb,” the Virginia Military Institute’s annual yearbook, in 1968.
The yearbook includes a photo of a student posing in blackface at a party and another image showing two men in blackface holding a football.
The N-word is used at least once in the yearbook and a student from Bangkok, Thailand is called a “Chink” and a “Jap” on the pages.
A blurb under one man’s photo says, “He was known as the ‘Barracks Jew’ having his fingers in the finances of the entire Corps.”
2. Norment Refuses to Discuss Report
Norment refused to comment on the yearbook when he was asked about it by reporters before a Republican Caucus meeting Thursday.
“I’m here to pass a budget today,” he said.
The Virginia Pilot reports that the yearbook was published the same year that black students were first allowed to enroll at the military institute.
“The only thing I’m talking about today is the budget,” Norment repeated to reporters Thursday.
3. Military Institute Spox: ‘It Was a Different Time Not a Sufficient Explanation’
Col. Stewart MacInnis, VMI’s director of communications, told The Virginia Pilot that he could not comment on “what was going through people’s minds then, or why they thought this was appropriate.”
“The point that it was a different time may not be a sufficient explanation, in my mind,” he said.
The Virginia Pilot published a blurb written by Norment in the yearbook’s editors page.
“It has been the objective of this year’s Bomb staff to concentrate on the VMI as it exists in actuality, not in theory,” Norment wrote. “There is an ever-broadening chasm between the two positions. With the completion of this editorial and the 1968 Bomb, I regretfully leave behind the theme ‘Honor Above Self’ and the loyalty of a few selected Brother Rats. Work on the Bomb has permitted me to release four years of inhibitions. And now, I am sorry our work is completed. It is a feeling only genuinely understood by those of us who labored in the ‘den of inequity.’”
4. Embattled Gov. Ralph Northam Also Attended Military Institute
Northam also attended VMI and graduated the school in 1981.
His yearbook lists his nickname as “Coonman,” though it’s unclear why.
Last week, the conservative news site Big League Politics published a photo from Northam’s medical school yearbook showing two men, one who was dressed in blackface and another dressed in a Ku Klux Klan robe. The report purported that one of the men was Northam.
Northam initially admitted he was in the photo and apologized before walking his admission back. He did not appear in the photo, Northam said, but dressed up in blackface in another incident for a Michael Jackson costume.
Northam is facing calls from both parties to resign.
5. Virginia Blackface Scandals Could Flip State Leadership
If Northam does step down it is entirely unclear who would replace him.
In a normal situation, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax would be elevated to the Governor’s Mansion until the end of Northam’s term but Fairfax is dealing with a scandal of his own.
California professor Vanessa Tyson says Fairfax sexually assaulted her while they were both attending the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston. Fairfax has denied the allegation and, according to NBC News, attempted to disredit Tyson in a private meeting and referred to her as a “b***h.”
If Fairfax is unable to take over in the case that Northam resigns, Attorney General Mark Herring would be next in line.
But Herring admitted in a statement Wednesday that he too wore blackface in college for a costume depicting a rapper.
If neither of the three top Democrats in the state can serve as governor, the next person in the line of succession is Republican Virginia House Speaker Kirk Cox.