Gov. Ralph Northam ‘deeply sorry’ for offensive yearbook photo, does not have plans to resign

Posted at 6:16 PM, Feb 01, 2019

RICHMOND, Va. -- Virginia Governor Ralph Northam issued a statement Friday evening following the publication of his senior medical school yearbook page that featured a photograph of a man wearing blackface and another wearing a Ku Klux Klan robe.

“Earlier today, a website published a photograph of me from my 1984 medical school yearbook in a costume that is clearly racist and offensive,"

“I am deeply sorry for the decision I made to appear as I did in this photo and for the hurt that decision caused then and now.

“This behavior is not in keeping with who I am today and the values I have fought for throughout my career in the military, in medicine, and in public service. But I want to be clear, I understand how this decision shakes Virginians’ faith in that commitment.

“I recognize that it will take time and serious effort to heal the damage this conduct has caused. I am ready to do that important work. 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.”

The photo, which appears on Northam's page in an Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook from 1984, also features the accompanying quote:  “There are more old drunks than old doctors in this world so I think I’ll have another beer.”

It is unclear which costume Northam is wearing.

WTKR reporter Brendan Ponton went to the EVMS library in Norfolk Friday afternoon and found the page on which the photo appears.

Big League Politics, a conservative news website, first posted the photo Friday afternoon.

Northam does not have plans to resign. 

In an additional video statement tweeted by Gov. Northam Friday evening, Northam stated that he was committed to continuing his fight to regain his constituents trust "through the remainder of his term," signaling that he does not intend to resign asa slew of political figures and progressive groups have demanded.

"My fellow Virginians, earlier today I released a statement apologizing for behavior in my past that falls far short of the standard you set for me when you elected me to be your governor. I believe you deserve to hear directly from me. That photo and the racist and offensive attitudes it represent does not reflect that person I am today or the way that I have conducted myself as a soldier, a doctor and a public servant. I am deeply sorry. I cannot change the decisions I made, nor can I undo the harm my behavior caused then and today. But I accept responsibility for my past actions and I am ready to do the hard work of regaining your trust. I have spent the past year as your governor fighting for a Virginia that works better for all people. 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. Thank you."

Lawmakers react to Northam yearbook photo

“This is a deeply disturbing and offensive photograph in need of an immediate explanation by the Governor,” GOP General Assembly leaders said in a statement.

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney also released the following statement Friday afternoon.

“This is deeply disappointing and offensive. I want to hear what Governor Northam has to say on this,” Stoney said.

Stay with and watch CBS 6 News for continuing coverage of this developing story.



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