Northam Says Blackface Photo Scandal Has Been An 'Awakening For Virginia'

Minnie Murray
February 11, 2019

The allegations come as Virginia's state politics continue to swirl, after Gov. Ralph Northam admitted to and then denied being in a photo showing a person in a Ku Klux Klan outfit and a person in blackface that was on his page in his medical school yearbook.

The governor originally acknowledged appearing in the photo and then backtracked the next day at a nationally televised news conference, where he said he did not believe he was in the photo, but did admit to donning blackface at a dance competition in Texas.

Today, Gov. Northam sat down with CBS "This Morning" to discuss the current quagmire his administration finds itself forced to deal with.

When asked about the allegations of sexual assault, including rape, from two women against fellow Democrat Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax, Northam said that he should step down depending on the evidence.

"Right now, Virginia needs someone who can heal. Lieutenant-Governor Fairfax has suggested and called for an investigation, I strongly support that". Asked about this week in VA, Northam responds by referring to kidnapped, enslaved, & trafficked Africans as 'indentured servants, ' tweeted Qasim Rashid, a Muslim activist who lives in Virginia.

Northam has refused to step down, despite demands from his peers and adversaries who want him to leave his post.

Already facing calls to resign over his "blackface" scandal, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam triggered more outrage, mockery and some serious fact-checking, after referring to the first Africans in the United States as "indentured servants". While Northam said he won't resign in the wake of the scandal, if a scandal plaguing another person in Virginia's government proves to be true, he said Fairfax will have to resign.

Meanwhile the Republican party in Virginia has also been hit by its own blackface scandal after it emerged that Virginia Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment edited a 1968 college publication containing slurs and blackface photos.

"It has really raised the level of awareness for racial issues in Virginia".

Northam reportedly spoke to The Washington Post for 30 minutes from the parlor of the Virginia governor's mansion, and resolved to allow the issue to pass. "She turned and asked: "Why did you do it?' Mr. Fairfax answered: 'I knew that because of what happened to you a year ago, you'd be too afraid to say anything.' Mr. Fairfax actually used the prior rape of his 'friend" against her when he chose to rape her in a premeditated way".

"Mr. Fairfax has chosen to attack his victim again", Watson's lawyer, Nancy Erika Smith, wrote in the statement, "now smearing her with the typical "she's nuts" defense". "That's why I'm not going anywhere".

"Ms. Watson stands ready, although it will be painful, to tell the Virginia Legislature what Mr. Fairfax did to her when she was 20 years old", a statement released by Watson's attorney said.

Two women have made allegations against Fairfaxe. He said Saturday he heard from Tyson after their encounter and he knew Watson after their encounter, and he said neither ever "said or otherwise indicated that our interaction was not consensual or caused her any discomfort".

Even so, a poll conducted February 6-8 for the Washington Post found residents split over Northam's fate, with 47 percent wanting him to step down and an equal number saying he should stay on.

Although the Democratic Party has taken nearly a zero-tolerance approach to misconduct among its members in this #MeToo era, a housecleaning in Virginia could be costly to them: If all three Democrats resigned, Republican House Speaker Kirk Cox would become governor.

Virginia Gov. Northam on whether the commonwealth's Attorney General Mark Herring should resign over blackface scandal: "I regret that our attorney general is in this position".

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