Student newspaper The Auburn Plainsman recently found racist photos in old copies of The Glomerata, the university's yearbook, according to AL.com. Among them was a photo of members of Alpha Gamma Delta, Ivey's sorority, performing a skit in blackface. The caption under the photo labels them as "minstrels," the term used to describe white actors who wear blackface to perform.
While Ivey initially denied her participation in the racist skit, on Thursday, audio of a 1967 radio interview surfaced of her then-fiancé, Ben LaRavia, affirming that she did, indeed, take part.
That's when the Republican governor issued an apology, while still claiming not to remember participating in the production.
“Even after listening to the tape, I sincerely do not recall either the skit...or the interview itself, both [of] which occurred 52-years ago... Even though Ben is the one on tape remembering the skit — and I still don’t recall ever dressing up in overalls or in blackface — I will not deny what is the obvious," Ivey said.
"As such, I fully acknowledge — with genuine remorse — my participation in a skit like that back when I was a senior in college.
"While some may attempt to excuse this as acceptable behavior for a college student during the mid-1960s, that is not who I am today, and it is not what my administration represents all these years later.
"I offer my heartfelt apologies for the pain and embarrassment this causes, and I will do all I can — going forward — to help show the nation that the Alabama of today is a far cry from the Alabama of the 1960s. We have come a long way, for sure, but we still have a long way to go."
While Republicans have defended Ivey, some Democratic lawmakers have called for her to resign, including Alabama House Reps. John Rogers and Juandalynn Givan.
"I don’t care if it was 52 years ago or yesterday," Givan told AL.com. "She is the governor of the state of Alabama, which is still considered one of the most racist states in the U.S. This is who she was then. It is who she is now. I have nothing for her. I don’t accept her apology. She should have stood before the people of Alabama herself. She should resign. I don’t think she should have been elected, and I think she is a racist."
Rep. Terri Sewell, the only Democratic U.S. House Representative from Alabama, tweeted: "Racism — in any of its forms — is never acceptable, not in the 1960s and not now. Governor Ivey’s actions were reprehensible and are deeply offensive. Her words of apology ring hollow if not met with real action to bridge the racial divide."
Racism – in any of its forms – is never acceptable, not in the 1960s and not now. Governor Ivey’s actions were reprehensible and are deeply offensive. Her words of apology ring hollow if not met with real action to bridge the racial divide. https://t.co/6uxqEyQq6X— Rep. Terri A. Sewell (@RepTerriSewell) August 29, 2019
Benard Simelton, president of the Alabama NAACP, said he believes that Ivey hasn't changed.
"It may have been 52 years ago when the skit happened, but it apparently still shapes who she is today," Simelton said in a statement. "She refused to meet with the NAACP two years ago to discuss race relations in Alabama. She has not taken steps to expand Medicaid in Alabama, she gladly signed bills to protect one of the most racist American symbols, the Confederate flag, and monuments."
Ivey's office said she has no plans to step down. "The governor’s commitment to serve the state is unchanged and unwavering," her office said in a statement.