Virginia governor facing calls for resignation

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., is among the politicians who think the governor should step down

Maya Lora and Sutton Travis

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, who attended Washington and Lee’s neighbor, Virginia Military Institute, is facing calls for his resignation following the emergence of a yearbook photo of two men, one in blackface and one dressed in a Ku Klux Klan robe.

The photo in question was released on Friday, Feb. 1, the first day of Black History Month. The photo appeared in a 1984 Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook, according to multiple media reports.

The yearbook page is apparently dedicated to Northam: the page bears his name, his alma mater (VMI), his interest in pediatrics and a quote, reading, “There are more old drunks than old doctors in the world so I think I’ll have another beer.”

Northam apologized for the photo on Friday, according to the Washington Post. But on Saturday, Northam announced that after taking time to re-examine the photo, he was not either of the people in it.

Northam did admit that he had once used shoe polish to blacken his face in order to appear like Michael Jackson for a dance competition in San Antonio, but he did not say that this photo was from that event, according to the Washington Post.

Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax released a statement on Twitter calling the photos “an example of a painful scourge that continues to haunt us today and holds us back from the progress we need to make.”

Fairfax’s statement also said that his great-great-great-grandfather had been enslaved in Virginia, and that for him, “this episode strikes particularly close to home.”

Several politicians, like Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., have since called for Northam’s resignation. Kaine released a joint statement with Sen. Mark R. Warner, D-Va., and Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va. Their statement said that Northam “should step down and allow the Commonwealth to begin healing.”

  Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., who has announced her candidacy for president in the 2020 election, tweeted on Friday, “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.”

President Donald Trump tweeted on Saturday that Northam’s actions were “unforgivable.”

As of Sunday morning, Northam is not planning to resign.