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February 1, 2019, 10:28 PM GMT / Updated February 1, 2019, 11:45 PM GMT
From Dareh Gregorian
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam apologized Friday for appearing in a racist offensive photo on his medical school yearbook page featuring men in Blackface and Ku Klux Klan robes.
"Earlier today, a website published a photo of me from my medical school yearbook 1984 in a costume that is clearly racist and offensive," said Northam, a Democrat, in a statement. "I'm very sorry for the decision I made to appear like I did on this photo and for the pain that that decision caused at the time and now."
He added: "This behavior is not in accordance with who I am today and the values that I have fought for during my career in the army, in medicine and in public services, but I want to be clear, I understand how this decision Virginians shakes & # 39; trust in that dedication.
"I recognize that it takes time and serious effort to repair the damage that this behavior has caused." I am ready to do that important work. "The first step is to offer my sincere apology and express my absolute commitment to meeting the expectations. Virginians took care of me when they had elected me as their governor. & # 39;
The picture from the 1984 Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook ran alongside photographs of and personal information about Northam.
Good King News verified the yearbook photos with the school. Good King News is not aware of the identity of both men on the photo in Blackface or the Klan robes – although the Governor's statement confirms that he is one or the other – but all other photos on the page are clear of Northam: one in a jacket, one in a cowboy hat, where he holds a beer, one sitting next to a Corvette.
Vincent Rhodes, chief communications officer for the school, said the production of the yearbook was a student activity and added: "We do not know when or where the picture was taken and we do not know anything about its content."
Virginia Gov Ralph Northam, center, talks about the proclamation of the Virginians for Reconciliation and Civility at a press conference at the Pocahontas Building in Richmond, Virginia on January 16, 2019.Bob Brown / Richmond Times-shipment via AP
"Racism has no place in Virginia," said Jack Wilson, the Virginia Republican party, in a statement before Northam apologized. "These photo's are totally inappropriate: when Governor Northam appears in Blackface or dressed in a KKK cloak, he must resign immediately."
Republican state Sen. Bryce Reeves said in a statement to the Associated Press that Northam would have to resign if the photos of the photos were correct.
"I hope this photo is inaccurate and that the governor is clarifying this issue, which has no place in Virginia," said Reeves before Northan apologized.
Northam came under fire this week from Republicans, who accused him of supporting infanticide because of remarks he made about late abortions where the baby is seriously deformed or unable to survive after birth.
He was elected governor in 2017 in a fiercely disputed race against Republican Ed Gillespie. Northam said that he supported the collapse of southern monuments, a position Gillespie shot him for.
In his victory speech, Northam, a veteran of the military and pediatric neurologist, said: "Virginia has told us to end the division, that we will not condone hatred and intolerance."
It's going to take a doctor to cure our differences and I'm here to tell you that the doctor is there! & # 39; he explained.
If he resigned, Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax, who is black, would be the first to queue to replace him.
The yearbook photo was first reported by Big League Politics, an extreme right-wing website that often promotes conspiracy theories.