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Voters react to Gov. Northam’s yearbook photo: ‘That’s a pretty strong visual’

Posted at 11:45 PM, Feb 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-02 07:10:14-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- From the political realm to Downtown Richmond, the impact of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam's  senior medical school yearbook page which features a photograph of a man wearing blackface and another wearing a Ku Klux Klan robe, is also being absorbed by ordinary people.

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.”

CBS 6 drove through a few Richmond neighborhoods and through Carytown Friday night to see what people really had to say. For some it was shocking news,
something they say they thought could never happen.

While others wanted to read Governor Ralph Northams statement themselves before giving an opinion.

"It`s never really okay to do that in my opinion and obviously not something we want our representative portraying as out in the public," said Beth Hughett.

"That`s a pretty strong visual. That image sticks in your mind," said Edward Hofmann. "I think it should bother anybody."

"When are we going to stop judging a person for what he did, 20 to 30 years ago," added Jose Martinez. "It doesn`t mean that he`s the same person that he was when he took that picture. He`s most likely a different person now because he got elected to be the governor of our state."

Governor 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.”