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Virginia Governor Apologizes for Racist Imagery in ’84 Yearbook

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam apologized Friday for a “racist and offensive” costume seen on his 1984 medical school yearbook page.

The photo shows a person in blackface and another in full Ku Klux Klan robes. The governor did not say which costume he was wearing.

The Democratic governor said that the behavior was not in keeping with his values and that he would work to heal the damage he had caused.

The Virginian-Pilot obtained a copy of the photo Friday from the library at the Eastern Virginia Medical School, which Northam attended. The yearbook images were first published by the conservative news outlet Big League Politics. An Associated Press reporter saw the yearbook page and confirmed its authenticity at the medical school.  

Republican state Sen. Bryce Reeves said in a statement that Northam should resign if the reports of the photos are accurate.

“I hope that this picture is inaccurate and that the governor brings clarity to this issue. This has no place in Virginia,” Reeves said.

If Northam were to resign, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, who is African-American and also is a Democrat, would assume the governor’s office.

For now, Northam’s close allies haven’t said anything publicly. Democratic Sen. Jennifer McClellan, a well-known African-American lawmaker from Richmond, just shook her head when approached by a reporter seeking comment.

Northam, a folksy pediatric neurologist who counts many GOP lawmakers among his friends, recently came under fire from Republicans who accused him of backing infanticide after he said he supported a bill loosening restrictions on late-term abortions.

Last week, Florida’s secretary of state resigned after photos from a 2005 Halloween party showed him in blackface while dressed as a Hurricane Katrina victim.