Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has refused to resign over his racist 1984 blackface/KKK yearbook photo, opting instead to go on tour to address racial inequality.
“It’s been a horrific week for Virginia. A lot of individuals across Virginia have been hurt,” Northam told The Washington Post on Saturday.
Despite intense pressure from both sides of the aisle to resign, Northam insisted he still has work to do, announcing that he would instead launch a statewide “reconciliation tour” to discuss “race and healing.”
(Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s 1984 Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook page)
From The Washington Post:
Asked why it’s in the best interest of the state for him to work through these issues while in office, instead of heeding the calls to resign, Northam responded that he has a responsibility to the people who elected him.
“I have a lot more to learn…The more I know, the more I can do,” Northam said. Speaking as a pediatric neurologist, he said he could feel the anguish of Virginians. “I want to heal that pain, and I want to make sure that all Virginians have equal opporunity…and I think I’m the person that can do that for Virginia.”
The Virginia Democrat, whose given nickname in medical school was “Coonman,” insisted he’s learned from his “mistakes” following the devastating scandal.
“The things that I did back in medical school and – and – in San Antonio were insensitive and I have learned since that they were very offensive. We learn from our mistakes and I’m a stronger person,” he said.
After initially admitting to being in a yearbook picture featuring two individuals in blackface and a KKK robe, Northam walked back the admission, instead confessing to wearing blackface as Michael Jackson in San Antonio, Texas.
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