Image copyright Getty Images Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has apologised after his 1984 medical yearbook page emerged, showing a photo featuring men in racist costumes. “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,” he said in…
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has apologised after his 1984 medical yearbook page emerged, showing a photo featuring men in racist costumes.
“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,” he said in a statement.
The image showed a man in blackface and another man in Ku Klux Klan robes.
It appeared on a page with other photos of Mr Northam as well as personal details about him.
He did not elaborate on which costume he was wearing, but said he appeared in a photograph that was “clearly racist and offensive”.
“I recognise that it will take time and serious effort to heal the damage this conduct has caused,” he continued.
“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 yearbook page, which came from the paediatric neurologist’s time at Eastern Virginia Medical School, was first published by conservative website Big League Politics. He earlier had graduated from Virginia Military Institute.
An official from the medical school verified the photo and told the Huffington Post it came from a “student-produced publication”.
The page, which features his full name and photos of the future doctor and politician, also included a quote from a Willie Nelson song that read: “There are more old drunks than old doctors in this world so I think I’ll have another beer.”
The photo prompted a swift backlash from conservatives, including Jack Wilson, the chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, who called on Mr Northam to step down.
“Racism has no place in Virginia,” he said in a statement. “These pictures are wholly inappropriate. If Governor Northam appeared in blackface or dressed in a KKK robe, he should resign immediately.”