Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam on Saturday held a press conference about the racist 1984 yearbook photo that was discovered. The photo featured two men: one in blackface and another in KKK clothing. In a weird turn of events, Northam changed his story...again. After admitting that was him in the photo on Friday, he said it actually wasn't in.
Virginia Gov. Northam: "When I was confronted with the images yesterday, I was appalled that they appeared on my page, but I believe, then and now, that I am not either of the people in that photo." pic.twitter.com/KPanPvrI3L— NBC News (@NBCNews) February 2, 2019
To make things even stranger, he did, however, admit to dressing up as Michael Jackson during a talent contest earlier that same year.
Gov. Northam: "That same year, I did participate in a dance contest ... in which I darkened my face as part of a Michael Jackson costume." pic.twitter.com/3RRhaWLJRY— NBC News (@NBCNews) February 2, 2019
Northam said he refuses to resign because that would be the easy way out and he would be ducking his responsibility.
"I cannot in good conscience choose the path that would be easier for me in an effort to duck my responsibility to reconcile," Gov. Northam says of why he will not resign. pic.twitter.com/9Xj0MLiMIk— NBC News (@NBCNews) February 2, 2019
But things keep getting worse for him. Democratic organizations and allies are calling for Northam to resign, the biggest one being the Democratic National Committee
"I spoke with Governor Northam this morning. His past actions are completely antithetical to everything the Democratic Party stands for. Virginians and people across the country deserve better from their leaders, and it is clear that Ralph Northam has lost their trust and his ability to govern," DNC Chairman Tom Perez said in a statement. "The Democratic Party believes that diversity is our greatest strength and that hatred and racism have no place in our democracy. And we will never hesitate to hold accountable people who violate those values, regardless of their party affiliation. It's time for Ralph Northam to step aside and let Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax serve Virginians as their next Governor. Justin is a dedicated public servant who is committed to building a brighter future for the Commonwealth of Virginia."
The Virginia Legislative Black Caucus shared similar sentiments. This was their statement:
We amplify our call for the Governor to resign. As we stated, yesterday we met with the Governor, looked him in the eye and expressed our deep sense of betrayal, pain, and disappointment. During our meeting, both the members of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus and Governor Northam were direct and honest with each other. In light of his public admission and apology for his decision to appear in the photo, he has irrevocably lost the faith and trust of the people he was elected to serve. Changing his public story today now casts further doubt on his ability to regain that trust.
At a critical juncture in this legislative session, we need to focus on the important work of governing. We cannot continue to work with Governor Northam at the helm.
The damage that has been done by these revelations is irreparable. Our confidence in his ability to govern for the over 8 million Virginians has been eviscerated. Another moment should not pass before we hear Governor Northam do the honorable thing and resign.
Before the press conference even took place, Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on Northam to resign:
The photo is racist and contrary to fundamental American values. I join my colleagues in Virginia calling on Governor Northam to do the right thing so that the people of the Commonwealth of Virginia can heal and move forward.— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) February 2, 2019
And without saying it directly, Northam's Lt. Gov. wants him to resign as well, as evidenced by his statement:
Like so many Virginians, I am shocked and saddened by the images in the Governor's yearbook that came to light yesterday.
They are an example of a painful scourge that continues to haunt us today and holds us back from the progress we need to make.
As we commemorate 400 years since the first enslaved Africans were brought to Virginia, it is painful to experience such a searing reminder of the modern legacy of our nation's original sin. And, as someone whose great-great-great-grandfather was enslaved in Virginia, this episode strikes particularly close to home.
The Governor needed to apologize, and I am glad that he did. He also reached out to me personally to express his sincere regrets and to apologize.
I have worked closely with Ralph Northam over many years. He has been a friend to me and has treated my family and me with hospitality and respect.
While his career has been marked by service to children, soldiers, and constituents, I cannot condone actions from the past that, at the very least, suggest a comfort with Virginia's darker history of white supremacy, racial stereotyping and intimidation.
At this critical and defining moment in the history of Virginia and this nation, we need leaders with the ability to unite and help us rise to the better angels of our nature.
I remain committed to serving and helping to heal the Commonwealth moving forward. Now more than ever, we must make decisions in the best interest of the people of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
The ball's in your court, Northam. Do the right thing.