Governor Northam Continues to Lose Key Support Saturday, Future in Doubt

Del. Kathy Tran at the Capitol in Richmond on Wednesday

The Democratic Party of Virginia said in a statement Saturday that Northam should step down immediately and be replaced by Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax.

Ralph Northam said Wednesday that while he has darkened his skin before to imitate a black man, he doesn't think he is in the photo that appears on his 1984 medical school yearbook page showing someone in blackface and another person in a KKK costume.

He said that he had however blackened his face at a dance contest in San Antonio - "It is because my memory of that is so vivid that I do not believe I am in the photo in the yearbook", he said.

The Virginian-Pilot newspaper tweeted a picture of the page which it said it obtained from the medical school library.

The photo, which was carried by various United States media outlets, depicts two people, one in blackface, the other dressed in a Ku Klux Klan robe and hood.

Ralph Northam apologized Friday for the "racist and offensive" costume seen on his 1984 medical school yearbook page.

Northam released a video later on Friday evening that said he would continue to serve out his term.

Northam, who was recently elected in 2017 and whose term expires in 2022, appealed to his constituents for forgiveness, saying he was "ready to do the hard work of regaining" Virginians' trust. The organization's founder, Margaret Sanger, was an avowed eugenist who wrote in her autobiography that she "accepted an invitation to talk to the women's branch of the Ku Klux Klan".

The page is labelled Ralph Shearer Northam, along with pictures of him in a jacket and tie, casual clothes and alongside his restored Corvette.

The Democrat Northam confirmed in an apology on Friday that he had appeared in the photo in the 1984 yearbook from Eastern Virginia Medical School.

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Following Mr Northam's, apology CBS News uncovered a copy of the Governor's Virginia Military Institute 1981 yearbook which lists one of his nicknames as the racial slur "Coonman".

The Virginia Legislative Black Caucus issued a statement late Friday saying "we feel complete betrayal" and are "still processing" the pictures.

She said Saturday via Twitter that she is joining her colleagues in Virginia in calling for Northam "to do the right thing" so that the people in Virginia can heal and move on.

Northam is the latest high-profile figure to run into trouble over blackface - the racist mimicking of African-Americans that dates back to the 19th century.

Virginia Senate Minority Leader Richard Saslaw said: "His whole life has been about exactly the opposite and that's what you need to examine, not something that occurred 30 years ago".

On Saturday morning, while a small group of protesters stood outside the Virginia governor's mansion, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders joined the chorus insisting on Northam's resignation.

Northam is calling Virginia Democrats to try and gain support.

The Republican Party of Virginia issued an early call for Northam's resignation, followed by national Democrats, including a host of 2020 contenders. At a time when white nationalist movements are on the rise and becoming increasingly visible and openly violent, there is no room for excusing racist behavior.

The photo alone is reason enough for Northam to resign. Like my fellow Democrats in the General Assembly, I knew we needed to make space for the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus to meet with the Governor and determine their course of action.

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

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