Feb four (Reuters) – Virginia Governor Ralph Northam met along with his Cupboard on Monday amid a refrain of calls from fellow Democrats to resign over final week’s revelation of a racist picture on his 1984 medical college yearbook web page.
A number of dozen protesters gathered on the state capitol in Richmond to demand that Northam, a white man, step down, whereas Virginia Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax, who’s black, mentioned there was “a variety of uncertainty” within the state’s authorities.
A conservative media web site on Friday launched a web page from Northam’s yearbook depicting one particular person in blackface standing subsequent to a masked particular person within the white robes of the Ku Klux Klan.
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Northam, 59, initially apologized on Friday and mentioned he was one of many two individuals within the picture, then modified his story Saturday, saying he didn’t seem within the image however had wearing blackface at one other level that yr.
The origins of blackface date to 19th-century “minstrel” exhibits wherein white performers coated their faces in black grease paint to caricature slaves.
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The governor’s admission drew speedy calls for for his resignation from Virginia politicians, the NAACP civil rights group and nationwide political figures. A minimum of 5 Democratic presidential candidates, together with U.S. Senators Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, each of whom are black, mentioned Northam had misplaced the ethical authority to guide.
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Northam’s workplace didn’t reply to questions on his plans on Monday, however native media retailers reported he was assembly with advisers.
Fairfax, 39, who’s in line to succeed Northam and turn into solely the fifth African-American to function governor of a U.S. state, courting again to the post-Civil Battle period of Reconstruction, mentioned he was unsure what Northam’s subsequent transfer could be.
“I consider the governor has to decide that’s in the very best curiosity of the commonwealth of Virginia,” Fairfax instructed reporters on the capitol.
READ MORE: Democratic presidential candidates name on Virginia governor to resign over racist picture
Requested if he was getting ready to presumably assume workplace as governor, Fairfax replied, “There may be a variety of uncertainty proper now in our authorities. However we all the time should be prepared.”
Ought to Northam resign, Fairfax could be the second black governor – after Douglas Wilder – within the historical past of Virginia, the place his great-great-great grandfather as soon as was a slave.
Earlier on Monday Fairfax launched a press release denying a obscure on-line report lady urged he had sexually assaulted her in 2004.
“Tellingly, not one different respected media outlet has seen match to air this false declare,” the assertion from Fairfax’s workplace mentioned.
WATCH: Virginia lieutenant governor denies sexual assault allegation
A minimum of two media retailers, together with the Washington Put up, mentioned a girl had approached them greater than a yr in the past with the identical allegation. The retailers mentioned that they had been unable to substantiate her declare.
The report of the allegation was revealed on the identical web site, Massive League Politics, that first revealed Northam’s yearbook web page.
Northam mentioned on Saturday he had donned blackface within the 1980s to painting pop star Michael Jackson in a dance competitors.
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Throughout a Saturday information convention, Northam made light-hearted remarks about how laborious it’s to scrub black shoe polish from one’s face and whether or not he ought to carry out Jackson’s signature “moonwalk” dance for the cameras, however abstained on the recommendation of his spouse.
“What occurred Saturday was an unlucky show, and relatively tone-deaf to what the affect actually is,” Derrick Johnson, the president of the Nationwide Affiliation for the Development of Coloured Individuals, or NAACP, instructed MSNBC on Monday.