Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam Claims It Wasn't Him in Blackface Photo - Rolling Stone
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Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam Now Says It Wasn’t Him in Blackface Photo

On Friday, however, he admitted it was him in the photograph

Virginia Gov. Ralph NorthamVirginia Gov. Ralph Northam

Steve Helber/AP/REX/Shutterstock

After apologizing and admitting he appeared in a photo of two people—one in blackface, the other in a Ku Klux Klan hood—that was published on his personal page in his medical school yearbook, Virginia governor Ralph Northam will now claim it is not him in the image, the New York Times’s Jonathan Martin reported. Northam is expected to address the controversy in a press conference at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, and a spokesman has confirmed he will not resign.

It’s a bizarre twist in an already strange story. Northam appeared in a video on Friday evening, apologizing and accepting responsibility for the photo, but refused to resign. “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,” Northam said. “This behavior is not in keeping with who I am today and the values I have fought for throughout my career in the military, in medicine and in public service.”

But on Saturday, the Times wrote that Northam is calling medical school classmates in an attempt to “jog their memories” of the image and plans to make a statement Saturday afternoon saying he does not believe it is him, according to a Virginia Democrat familiar with his planning. Northam is even considering using facial recognition to prove he is not the one in blackface, although even if that were possible, facial recognition could not prove that Northam isn’t the person wearing the Klan hood.

But while Northam stalls, many of the Democratic presidential candidates are calling on Northam to step down. Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Julián Castro, and Kirsten Gillibrand all issued statements to that effect. The Virginia House and Senate Democratic caucuses and the Legislative Black Caucus also weighed in and said Northam should resign, as did former Vice President Joe Biden and former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe.

But even as Northam tries to say it’s not him in the photograph, more of the governor’s racist past is coming to light. CBS News discovered Northam’s undergraduate yearbook from Virginia Military Institute. Under Northam’s photo is the nickname “Coonman,” a racial slur.

In This Article: Ralph Northam


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