Several Democratic lawmakers and liberal groups called on Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D.) to resign on Friday after a racist yearbook photo of him surfaced.
The picture was on Northam's 1984 medical school yearbook page and showed two individuals, one in blackface and the other in a Ku Klux Klan hood, standing next to each other.
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Northam confirmed that he is one of the people in the photo and issued a statement apologizing for the "racist and offensive" costume.
JUST IN: Virginia Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam confirms he is one of the individuals in yearbook photo showing one person in blackface and another in KKK hood, apologizes for "racist and offensive" costume https://t.co/3K4VGfP5Mv pic.twitter.com/YoWqInnDAV
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) February 1, 2019
Northam also said in his apology that his behavior back then does not reflect who he is today and the values for which he has fought throughout his "career in the military, in medicine, and in public service."
"I recognize 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."
While some Democrats are defending Northam, many others and Democratic groups are calling on him to resign from office, including Priorities USA, the Democratic super PAC, and MoveOn.org, a large progressive activist group.
"I believe in personal forgiveness & public repentance. That is not the same as deserving the confidence bestowed in our elected officials," tweeted Guy Cecil, the chairman of Priorities USA. "The picture was horrifying and deserves a clear response. Ralph Northam should resign."
I believe in personal forgiveness & public repentance. That is not the same as deserving the confidence bestowed in our elected officials. The picture was horrifying and deserves a clear response. Ralph Northam should resign. https://t.co/cZBbzYeMFQ
— Guy Cecil (@guycecil) February 1, 2019
MoveOn and its executive director, Ilya Sheyman, also wrote on Twitter that Northam must resign.
If @RalphNortham is one of the two people pictured in the highly disturbing, horrific photo wearing either blackface or a KKK hood – or if he selected or approved of its use on his yearbook page — he should immediately resign. There are no excuses for such a racist display.
— MoveOn (@MoveOn) February 1, 2019
— Ilya Sheyman (@iSheyman) February 2, 2019
Markos Moulitsas, the founder and publisher of the liberal blog Daily Kos, also called on Northam to step down, saying his "racist med school antics have no place anywhere in America."
"Black face in any manner is always racist and never okay," tweeted NAACP CEO Derrick Johnson. "No matter the party affiliation, we can not stand for such behavior, which is why the @NAACP is calling for the resignation of Virginia Governor @RalphNortham."
Black face in any manner is always racist and never okay. No matter the party affiliation, we can not stand for such behavior, which is why the @NAACP is calling for the resignation of Virginia Governor @RalphNortham
— Derrick Johnson (@DerrickNAACP) February 2, 2019
In addition to liberal groups, several prominent Democrats have come out calling for Northam's resignation, including Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.) and former Obama administration official Julian Castro, both 2020 presidential candidates.
Leaders are called to a higher standard, and the stain of racism should have no place in the halls of government. The Governor of Virginia should step aside so the public can heal and move forward together.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) February 2, 2019
It doesn’t matter if he is a Republican or a Democrat. This behavior was racist and unconscionable. Governor Northam should resign.
— Julián Castro (@JulianCastro) February 2, 2019
No, you can’t wear a black face or a white hood and lead a state. Not now and not ever. But we are merciful people. Governor Northam should step down, seek forgiveness, and through good deeds earn the respect of the African-American Community.
— Eric Swalwell (@ericswalwell) February 2, 2019