VA Gov. Ralph Northam refuses to resign over 1984 racist yearbook photo

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam prepares to address a news conference at the Capitol in Richmond Va. on Jan. 31 2019

VA Gov. Ralph Northam refuses to resign over 1984 racist yearbook photo

The Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, the Virginia House and Senate Democrats and the Democratic Party of Virginia all called for Northam's outster and for him to hand over the governorship to Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax.

The governor of the U.S. state of Virginia Ralph Northam has resisted mounting pressure from his Democratic Party to resign after a photograph surfaced which he said showed him and another person in racist garb at a party decades earlier.

Northam said he does not believe he is either person in the racist photo that appeared in his 1984 yearbook but that he did once darken his face to resemble Michael Jackson during a dance contest in 1984.

Virginia state Sen. Bryce Reeves, a Republican, was among the first politicians condemning the image.

Tobin Naidorf, who also graduated in 1984 and is now a gastroenterologist in Alexandria, Virginia, said he did not recall the exact procedure for submitting photos to the yearbook staff.

Northam had apologised on Friday, saying he was one of the people shown in the photo, which depicted one person in blackface standing next to another in a Ku Klux Klan costume.

Ralph Northam, the Governor of Virginia, has been forced to apologise after a photo of him emerged featuring men in KKK robes and blackface.

Northam released another apology, saying in a video that he apologizes "for behavior in my past that falls far short of the standard you set for me when you elected me to be your governor".

But Mr Northam appears to have virtually no path forward to remain in office without any institutional support.

"In the hours since I made my statement yesterday, I reflected with my family and classmates from the time and affirmed my conclusion that I am not the person in that photo", he said. "And that he never saw it, because he was in the Army and never bought a copy of the yearbook and no one ever told him about it".

"Such conduct is unacceptable for any Virginian - whether occurring in the past, present, or future", Spanberger said in a statement. "No matter the party affiliation, we cannot stand for such behavior, which is why the NAACP is calling for the resignation of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam".

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. "All elected officials are held to the highest standards and this photo is beneath that of any elected office, and especially that of a governor".

Northam is now isolating himself with his advisers, as they try to put together a game plan to weather the storm caused by the hateful photo.

"Then everything changed", the ally said, as national Democrats unleashed a torrent of calls for his resignation.

On Friday, the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus said in a statement that the yearbook photos "rip the scabs of an excruciatingly painful history and are a piercing reminder of this nation's sins". Donald McEachin, Abigail Spanberger and Elaine Luria, also urged Northam to step down.

Northam spent years actively courting the black community in the lead up to his 2017 gubernatorial run, building relationships that helped him win both the primary and the general election. He's a member of a predominantly black church on Virginia's Eastern Shore, where he grew up.

It shows one person dressed in blackface and another wearing KKK robes and a white hood.

"It's a matter of relationships and trust".

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