Published: Sat, February 09, 2019
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

Virginia's 3rd in line for governor swears he never wore blackface

Virginia's 3rd in line for governor swears he never wore blackface

"As one of seven working on a 359-page yearbook, I can not endorse or associate myself with every photo, entry, or word on each page", Norment wrote, adding that he did not appear in or take any of the photos in question.

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring has also faced backlash for dressing in blackface when he was in college.

A top Virginia Republican served as an editor for a college yearbook that includes racial slurs and at least one image of a person in blackface.

Embattled Gov. Ralph Northam apologized to state workers and pledged to lead Virginia forward in an email Friday one week after addressing a racist photo that surfaced from his 1984 medical school yearbook.

A second woman has come forward to accuse the Virginia lieutenant governor, Justin Fairfax, of sexual assault, plunging the state's politics into further chaos and capping a week of sudden turmoil.

A Democratic lawmaker from Virginia's D.C. suburbs says won't call on the besieged governor to resign. Northam eventually said that he didn't appear in the picture, which featured one man in blackface and a second in a Ku Klux Klan hood. On Saturday, he denied he was in the picture and said he was not immediately resigning but left his long-term fate unclear.

Calls for Northam's resignation among Virginia's Democratic establishment were almost universal early on, with at least five Democratic candidates for the White House joining the chorus. Fairfax called the allegation a political smear, hinting that it may have derived from Northam's camp to prevent his ouster.

Regarding the allegation against Fairfax, the district attorney's office in Boston declined to say whether it is investigating.

Mr Northam, who is white, apologised for the photo, then denied he was in it, though admitted wearing blackface while mimicking Michael Jackson on a separate occasion that year.

He writes: "It is my hope that these regrettable actions can be turned into teachable moments".

Northam and Herring are struggling to affirm their respect for African-Americans after acknowledging they wore blackface once decades ago.

The improbable scenario of the governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general being forced to resign en masse has raised the prospect of the Democrats losing the governorship to a Republican without an election.

And in statements Thursday night, the state legislature's Black Caucus and Virginia's Democratic congressional delegation reiterated calls for the governor to step down, while the state House Democrats - who also previously called for Northam's resignation - said they remain disappointed in him.

If all three Democrats were to lose their positions, the next in line to assume the governorship would be Virginia House Speaker Kirk Cox, a Republican.

The statement said that Watson is not seeking financial damages, but is simply requesting that Fairfax resign from office.

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