The Latest: Governor maintains he was not in racist photo
NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — The Latest on the results of an investigation into how a racist photo appeared on a yearbook page for Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (all times local):
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is reiterating his longstanding denial that he’s in a racist photo that appeared on his 1984 medical school yearbook page.
Northam made the comments Wednesday after an investigation commissioned by Eastern Virginia Medical School failed determine whether Northam is in the yearbook photo of a man in blackface next to someone in a Ku Klux Klan hood and robe.
The Democratic governor initially acknowledged he was in the picture when it surfaced in February. He then reversed course the next day, saying he was convinced he wasn’t in the photo.
Northam said Wednesday he was sorry for how he responded and said he’s working on addressing longstanding racial inequities.
The chairman of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus said little has changed after a law firm’s report failed to determine whether Gov. Ralph Northam is in a racist picture on his 1984 medical school yearbook page.
State Del. Lamont Bagby said there’s “no news” in the investigative report. He said lawmakers should focus instead on fixing long-standing racial disparities in Virginia.
Investigators on behalf of Eastern Virginia Medical School said Wednesday they couldn’t “conclusively determine” the identities of either person in a 35-year-old photo that features a man in blackface and someone in Ku Klux Klan clothing.
Northam denied being in the picture, which nearly ended his political career when it first surfaced in February. The Democratic governor has said improving racial inequities is a top priority.
Two presidents of the medical school Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam attended were aware of the racist photo on his 1984 yearbook page several years before the photo surfaced in February.
However, neither the current president of Eastern Virginia Medical School nor a previous one notified Northam or the public about the photo.
The presidents’ previous knowledge of the photograph came to light Wednesday in a law firm’s report on how the photo ended up on Northam’s yearbook page.
The image shows a person in blackface standing next to a person in Ku Klux Klan clothing.
Current EVMS President Dr. Richard Homan said at a news conference that the school is an apolitical public institution that shouldn’t become involved in politics. The school became aware of the photo during years that Northam ran for office.
Lawyers who investigated how a racist photo appeared on Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s 1984 medical school yearbook page say he initially apologized to for being in the picture out of an abundance of caution, but he didn’t believe he was in the photo.
Investigators on behalf of Eastern Virginia Medical School said Wednesday they couldn’t “conclusively determine” the identities of either person in the 35-year-old photo.
Investigators said Northam didn’t believe he was in the photo when he first saw it, but did not want to issue an immediate denial in case someone would contradict him.
Attorney Richard Cullen was one of the investigators and said Northam “erred on the side of caution initially and immediately regretted not having denied.”
The findings of an investigation into how a racist photo appeared on a yearbook page for Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam are set to be released.
Eastern Virginia Medical School plans to make the results of the investigation public at a news conference on Wednesday.
The independent investigation was conducted by the law firm McGuireWoods on behalf of the medical school in Norfolk.
Northam’s profile in the 1984 yearbook includes a photo of a man in blackface standing next to someone in Ku Klux Klan clothing. Northam denies being in the photo, which nearly ended his political career in February. Yearbook staff members have disagreed over whether the photo could have been mistakenly placed on Northam’s page.
Thousands of letters and emails were sent to alumni asking for information.