Governor refuses to quit over racism row

HORRIFIC racist photo found in Democrat Governor Ralph Northam’s yearbook sparks apology

Ralph Northam, the governor of the USA state of Virginia, has vowed to remain in office despite widespread calls for his resignation after a racist photo surfaced in his yearbook page from more than 30 years ago.

The Virginian-Pilot posted the Democratic governor's official statement and confirmation that he is one of the individuals in a photo and was "in a costume that is clearly racist and offensive".

The president went on to find fault with the election team of Republican Ed Gillespie, who unsuccessfully challenged Northam in 2017. "That's not me in that photo".

But he said he is sure he is not one of the two people pictured in blackface and in a Ku Klux Klan hood in his 1984 medical school yearbook page.

The picture showed a man in blackface and another man in Ku Klux Klan robes.

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker also called for Northam to step down. All appear under his name.

"These images arouse centuries of anger, anguish, and racist violence and they've eroded all confidence in Gov. Northam's ability to lead", Booker said Friday on Twitter. He said he did not purchase the yearbook and was not aware of the photo in question.

He did however voluntarily discuss an instance in the same time period in which, he said, he wore shoe polish on his face while winning a dance contest in San Antonio, Texas, dressed as Michael Jackson.

The photo from the 1984 Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook ran alongside pictures of and personal information about Northam. He said he has never worn a KKK uniform.

"That's a crucial intersection in the history of the country and the history of Virginia", Fairfax said. "Actions in my past that were hurtful".

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

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Mr Northam, a 59-year-old paediatric neurologist and Army veteran, graduated from Norfolk medical school in 1984. He said the school was convening an "urgent meeting" of senior leadership and board members. "I believe you deserve to hear directly from me". "We recognize the need to address and rectify any issues of racism and discrimination that arise, at any point - and will continue a long tradition of action to build a strong culture of diversity and inclusion".

Northam's office pushed back, saying his comments were limited to actions physicians might take in the case of "tragic or hard circumstances" - a nonviable pregnancy, for instance, or "severe fetal abnormalities".

The appearance of the photo immediately sparked criticism from three Democrats running for president.

He hadn't specified resignation, but the lieutenant governor had seen the avalanche of calls for Northam to step down and assumed it was a strong possibility.

Justin Fairfax speaks in his office at the Capitol in Richmond on Saturday. They were soon joined by former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Northam's close ally and predecessor.

"This has been a heartbreaking day". "The situation that he has put himself and the Commonwealth of Virginia in is untenable".

Northam, already in hot water from shocking abortion comments he made earlier in the week, is seen in a medical college yearbook standing at a gathering with one other person.

Almost every major declared and potential Democratic candidate called for Northam's resignation after disclosure of the photo, which shows one person in blackface and another hooded in white Klan regalia.

"Governor Northam should resign", added Castro.

Northam held a press conference on Saturday afternoon at the governor's mansion where he once again apologized for the image, but said he had nothing to do with it.

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