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Oh, So That’s Why Ralph Northam’s Medical School Didn’t Tell Anyone About His Racist Yearbook Photo

AP Photo/Steve Helber

Did I step into the Twilight Zone or did everyone just do an insane amount of crack cocaine last night? Those are the only explanations to explain this trash conclusion from an investigation centering on a racist photo that Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam was in during his years in medical school. Yes, it was inconclusive whatever the hell that means. We’ll circle back to that in a second. The other tidbit in this review conducted by Eastern Virginia Medical School was that former presidents of this school, including the current one, knew about the photo for years and during the time when Northam was running for political office. The reasoning was that EVMS didn’t want to become involved in a political matter, as it’s a public institution. Yeah, that’s a reasonable explanation, though Northam was race-peddling like crazy, accusing Republican candidate Ed Gillespie of supporting an agenda that will lead to white nationalists in pickup trucks running down people of color.  Here’s what dropped today about blackface-gate (via Virginian-Pilot) [emphasis mine]:

Lawyers hired to investigate racist content in Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbooks could not definitively say whether Gov. Ralph Northam appeared in the infamous blackface and KKK picture in the 1984 edition.

But a report released Wednesday says two EVMS presidents, including current president Richard Homan, were told about the racist photo while Northam was running for political officesand decided not to make it public.

“We understand President Homan's reasoning was EVMS should not become involved, or be seen to become involved, in an election as it is a public body and a public institution, and that EVMS did not not want there to be any suggestion that it had tried to influence Governor Northam in any respect by calling the photograph to his attention,” the document says.

The Norfolk medical school released the findings from Richmond law firm McGuire Woods in the form of a 36-page report.

In one case, the school’s alumni affairs director noticed the photo while preparing for a reunion and was “shocked” by it, the report says. EVMS officials decided not to put the 1984 yearbook on a table with other years’ editions.


At a press conference Wednesday, Homan stood by his decision not to tell Northam or the public about the racist photo earlier.

“I would make the same decision now,” he said. “We're apolitical, and I did not feel that it was a necessary disclosure to make.”

In trying to determine who was in the photo, investigators spoke to five members of the 1984 yearbook staff and others who were students or staff in the 1980s.

With respect to the photograph on Governor Northam's personal page, we could not conclusively determine the identity of either individual depicted in the Photograph,” the document says.

Our memories are not that short, folks. The photograph is one man in blackface while the other is in full Ku Klux Klan regalia. It’s on Northam’s yearbook page. The book was in EVMS’ library this entire time, which speaks to the weakness of the Republican opposition research in this race, but that’s a separate, and more maddening, matter entirely. Northam admitted to doing blackface as well, dressing like Michael Jackson for a dance competition in Austin, Texas in his youth. He admitted to it, folks. And he also admitted to being in the photo. We all remember this. Even hard-core liberals said this behavior was inexcusable, even the old youthful indiscretion escape hatch was closed; Northam was an adult when the photo was taken.

The Virginian-Pilot was the publication that verified the photo, which set off a series of scandals that soon engulfed the entire Northam administration. Attorney General Mark Herring admitted to doing blackface in college. Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax is facing two allegations of sexual assault. Yet, here’s the difference: all three men have retained their elected positions. No one has resigned. They really can’t. If all three resigned, Republicans would take total control over Richmond. When it comes to power and doing the right thing, you know where these people will land. But seriously, the photo’s review was indeterminable. Again, he admitted to being in the photo; it’s only a question of whether he’s in blackface or in the Klan outfit. 

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