VA Gov. Should Resign After Blackface Controversy


Cheriss May, MCT Campus

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam speaks at a Democratic Governors press conference

Joshua Edler Davis, Staff Writer

The state of Virginia has a major controversy regarding a state elected official. In a 1984 yearbook at the Eastern Virginia Medical School, Virginia governor Ralph Northam’s yearbook page has a picture of two students: one dressed in Ku Klux Klan attire and another pictured in blackface.
Northam served in the Army from 1984-1992 and was commissioned as a Maj. for the Medical Corps. He is a two time Senate member, former Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, and in 2017 was elected governor of Virginia.
Northam has since admitted to and apologized for appearing in the racist photograph. It is still unclear whether he is the man dressed in blackface or as the Ku Klux Klan member. This controversy reflects very poorly on the Democratic Party, and the politicians in the state of Virginia. According to an article by The Washington Post posted on Feb. 1, many have called for his resignation, including former Democratic governor Terry McAuliffe.
That same Washington Post article details members of the Legislative Black Caucus saying they felt “betrayed” by the governor and his actions as a youth. Governor Northman betrayed the trust of his constituents and the trust of other elected officials who believed in his message.
Despite the political pressure from his own party, Northam plans to finish the remaining three years of his term. Indeed, that is a very awkward situation for the over 1.5 million African Americans who call Virginia home.

The message of the Democratic Party, a supposed champion of minority rights, is antithetical to the message Northam is giving. Being photographed in one of the most disrespectful caricatures in American history is certainly more similar the Republican Party’s narrative on race relations.
Northam shouldn’t return to office because of how this controversy affects him and his constituents. Northam won’t be up for reelection until 2021. But for the next two years this will affect regular citizens day to day lives with the new information they know about their governor. The continued controversy will be relevant during any other race relations policy Northam chooses to pursue.
According to another article posted by The Washington Post on Feb. 2, NAACP President Derrick Johnson has since called for Governor Northan’s resignation, firmly declaring “We stand by our call for his resignation. He will now have to answer to his constituents in Virginia who will find it difficult to make peace with his choice.”
The person who would replace Northman as governor if he chooses to resign is Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax. Fairfax is one of only two African Americans to be elected to statewide office. The last person to do so was Lt. Governor Douglas Walker who was elected in 1990.
The governor of a state needs to be a person that the people can trust. The people of Virginia have a governor who can’t even be trusted to vet his past to make sure no scandals like this will occur. They deserve better leadership, leadership that can be trusted with the interests of all the citizens.