The Eastern Virginia Medical School held a press conference Tuesday to address the racist photo that was discovered in their 1984 yearbook. The photo, which included two people dressed up in blackface and a KKK robe, was found next to Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam's profile. He apologized for the shocking picture last week, but then took it back and said he wasn't sure he was one of the individuals in the photo.
How did that photo get published in the first place? EVMS plans to find out, via investigations led by a community advisory board and an outside law firm.
"It will be an independent and transparent investigation," President Richard V. Homan promised. "We are committed to finding the truth."
The president said he's seen other photos from past EVMS yearbooks that are "shockingly abhorrent" and "antithetical" to the school's mission. Asked how many racist photos he's found, Homan could not say.
"There's been a pattern," he said. "Some are repugnant, some are unprofessional. Some are shockingly abhorrent like I mentioned. We have to make sure we review that."
The independent investigations will hopefully provide "numbers," he said.
The school is "acutely hurt" by the events which occurred, he said, but they are more concerned for how the controversy will affect minorities in the community.
"The emotional wounds they endure are enormous," he acknowledged, before expressing his "sincere apologies."
The board noted their efforts to improve minority relations. They are working to diversify staff, help African American students excel, and are having their staff routinely undergo "implicit bias training."
"We believe we will learn from this and become a stronger institution because of it," the school officials predicted.
Despite calls from fellow Democrats to resign over the disturbing image, Northam insists he's not going anywhere. That's partly because he wants to finish the work he started, and, reportedly, because he doesn't want to be labeled a "racist for life."