Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam Says He Wore Blackface, but Not for Yearbook Photo

State and local Democrats call for his resignation after bizarre non-apology apology.


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Just when you thought U.S. politics can't get any weirder, the website Big League Politics published a picture Friday from the medical school yearbook of Gov. Ralph Northam (D–Va.), who is is trained as a pediatric neurologist.

Big League Politics has obtained photos from Northam's time at the Eastern Virginia Medical School, from which he graduated in 1984.

Northam and a friend were photographed together—one in blackface, one in Klan robes.

Northam's quote: "There are more old drunks than old doctors in this world so I think I'll have another beer."

Northam immediately apologized for the image, although he didn't indicate whether he was the guy in blackface or the guy wearing the KKK robes. On Saturday, Northam said at a press conference that he wasn't actually in the picture at all and he wasn't sure how the image ended up on his page.

"I believe now and then that I am not either of the people in this photo," Northam said, denying that he had ever worn a KKK robe and hood or been drunk enough to forget a moment like this. "This was not me in that picture. That was not Ralph Northam."

But Northam did admit that he had donned blackface while participating in a "dance contest where he dressed as [Michael] Jackson, the legendary pop icon."

"I had the shoes, I had a glove, and I used just a little bit of shoe polish to put under my—or on my—cheeks," he said. "And the reason I used a very little bit is because, I don't know if anybody's ever tried that, but you cannot get shoe polish off."

He added: "I look back now and regret that I did not understand the harmful legacy of an action like that."

At the press conference, he was asked whether he could still "Moonwalk" a la the Prince of Pop and he looked like he might be ready to bust a move until his wife stopped him.

Many high-ranking Democrats, including recent governors of Virginia and several national figures, have called on Northam to resign. So far, he is saying he will stay in office.

Early last week, Northam appeared on a radio show and endorsed legislation that would have relaxed restrictions on late-term abortions. Sources at Big League Politics, speaking anonymously to The Washington Post, claimed that the "revelations about Ralph Northam's racist past were absolutely driven by his medical school classmate's anger over his recent very public support for infanticide."

Republicans were quick to jump on the story, although with mixed results, given the recent comments in defense of "white nationalism" made by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa):

Where this story goes to die is anybody's guess.