Virginia governor apologizes for racist imagery in yearbook

Best of Ralph Northam's victory speech

Ralph Northam's page in his 1984 Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook. "The first step is to offer my sincerest apology and to state my absolute commitment to living up to the expectations Virginians set for me when they elected me to be their governor".

Northam, a pediatric neurologist, graduated from the medical school in Norfolk, Virginia in 1984.

Northam's 1984 yearbook page shows a picture of a person in blackface and another wearing a Ku Klux Klan hood next to different pictures of the governor.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam appears to have nearly no choice but to resign after losing support from virtually the entire state Democratic party and other key allies, who urged the governor to leave office because of a racist photo in which he appeared more than 30 years ago.

Mr Northam later released a video statement via Twitter in which he said he was "deeply sorry" for the offence the image had caused.

Mr Northam said he was not asking for forgiveness for his past actions but for "the opportunity to demonstrate without a shadow of a doubt that the person I was then is not the person I am today".

"He should have said that yesterday then", said state Senator Louise Lucas, D, who was among the lawmakers who received a call from Northam today.

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"There is no place for racism in America".

RICHMOND, VA. - Democratic Party of Virginia Chair Susan Swecker issued the following statement calling on the immediate resignation of Governor Northam.

The Republican Party in Virginia put out a statement saying that the photo, coupled with recent statements he made about a contested abortion bill, meant that he had "lost the moral authority to continue to govern and should resign immediately".

The official was not authorized to speak on the record to detail a private conversation.

CBS News uncovered a page from Northam's yearbook at Virginia Military Institute (VMI) that had nicknames under his name, which includes "Coonman", a racial slur. Northam said that he would be making a "serious effort to heal the damage this conduct has caused".

A wave of outrage swept the political field with both Republicans and Democrats demanding that Northam resign.

The photos alone are enough to prove that Governor Northam is not fit to represent the people of Virginia, but the implications are even greater.

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The Ku Klux Klan is one of the oldest and most infamous hate groups in the United States, and has targeted African Americans, Jews, Catholics and immigrants, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups.

After meeting with the governor Friday, the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus said "he can no longer effectively serve as Governor".

Others said there was no question he should step down.

He was followed by Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, Sherrod Brown, John Delaney, and potential candidates Eric Swalwell, John Hickenlooper, and Terry McAuliffe. Elaine Luria and Abigail Spanberger of Virginia; the NAACP and Planned Parenthood.

When pressed by the caucus, Northam said he did not know which person he was in the photo - the person in blackface or the person in the KKK outfit.

Northam was sworn in as governor in January 2018 for a four-year term following an election in November 2017 against Republican rival Ed Gillespie.

"It's a matter of relationships and trust".

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