Virginia Governor Ralph Northam is facing calls to resign after a yearbook photograph surfaced of him dressed in racist attire.
The photograph, which The New York Times reports is from Northam’s 1984 Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook, shows a man wearing blackface and another in Ku Klux Klan garb. Northam initially admitted he was in the photograph, although he has not specified which of the two costumes he was wearing. On Saturday, Democratic State Sen. L. Louise Lucas told the Washington Post that Northam said he didn't believe it was him in the photos after all. Northam now faces calls from both sides of the aisle to resign, but he has vowed to finish serving the remainder of his term.
“That photo, and the racist and offensive attitudes it represents, does not reflect the person I am today, or the way I have conducted myself as a soldier, a doctor, and a public servant. I am deeply sorry,” Northam said in a video statement.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi called on Northam to "do the right thing" and resign.
The photo is racist and contrary to fundamental American values. I join my colleagues in Virginia calling on Governor Northam to do the right thing so that the people of the Commonwealth of Virginia can heal and move forward.— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) February 2, 2019
“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,” California Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris wrote on Twitter.
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.— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) February 2, 2019
So far, Northam has rebuffed the calls for his resignation from his party. “I am committed to continuing that fight through the remainder of my term, and living up to the expectations you set for me when you elected me to serve,” he said in his statement.
Along with Harris, several Democratic presidential hopefuls, including Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro have rebuked Northrup’s actions and called for him to step down. President Donald Trump has yet to issue any comment on the incident.
“There aren’t two sets of rules for our friends and our foes: Right is right and wrong is wrong. Americans deserve to be respected by their leaders, and racism cannot be excused in our government or anywhere else,” Gillibrand tweeted. “Having seen the photo, I believe Governor Northam should resign.”
There aren’t two sets of rules for our friends and our foes: Right is right and wrong is wrong. Americans deserve to be respected by their leaders, and racism cannot be excused in our government or anywhere else. Having seen the photo, I believe Governor Northam should resign.— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) February 2, 2019
These images arouse centuries of anger, anguish, and racist violence and they’ve eroded all confidence in Gov. Northam’s ability to lead. We should expect more from our elected officials. He should resign.— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) February 2, 2019
Prior to his time in public office, Northam practiced neurology and served as an Army doctor. He was elected to the Virginia State Senate in 2007 and has served as governor of Virginia since 2018. From 2014 to 2018, Northam served a term as Virginia’s lieutenant governor under McAuliffe.
Additional reporting has been added to this story.