Northam on Blackface Scandal: 'I've Always Been Inclusive'

November 6, 2019

Asked about pictures in his medical school yearbook that appear to show him dressed in blackface, Virginia governor Ralph Northam (D.) said he has "always been inclusive" and that Virginians have "moved forward" from the controversy.

"Even practicing as a pediatrician, you know, I've always been inclusive, and we've moved forward from that," Northam said on CNN's New Day. "Certainly race and equity will continue to be a top priority of mine."

CNN anchor John Berman asked Northam if he owed the people of Virginia any further explanation about the scandal.

"We've obviously talked a lot about that. Good things have happened," Northam said. "You know, we've taken down an arch at Fort Monroe which is where the enslaved Africans first arrived. We've got a curriculum process going on where we want to make sure that we're teaching our children the truth about history in Virginia. So good things are happening."

He also thanked Virginians for sticking with him as the leader of the state's Democrats, who won both houses of the state legislature Tuesday. With Northam as governor, Democrats have full control of the state government for the first time in 26 years.

"This was about a bigger picture yesterday, and I would also take the opportunity to thank Virginians," Northam said. "They stuck with me. They elected me to be their governor, their 73rd governor. They didn't turn their backs on me. They supported me."

Northam became embroiled in a blackface scandal at the beginning of 2019 when a photo surfaced from his medical school yearbook showing a man in blackface next to another wearing a Ku Klux Klan outfit.

Despite calls to resign from high-ranking Democrats, Northam refused to step down. Soon after the blackface scandal broke, Virginia lieutenant governor Justin Fairfax (D.) faced accusations of sexual assault, and the Virginia attorney general admitted he had worn blackface at a college party.

Northam has two years left in his term as governor and will now have a Democratic legislature to work with on his policy priorities, such as gun confiscation.