Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam Just Said That He Won’t Resign

He also called slaves “indentured servants from Africa.”

Steve Helber/AP

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.

Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam has been facing calls to resign since a photo of a man in blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan hood in his medical school yearbook surfaced earlier this month. After apologizing for the photo, then backtracking and saying he wasn’t in the photo at all, and then admitting that he donned blackface in 1984 for a Michael Jackson dance contest, the Virginia governor is now saying he has no plans to resign.

“Right now Virginia needs someone that can heal. There’s no better person to do that than a doctor,” Northam said Sunday in an appearance on CBS This Morning

In the immediate aftermath of the controversy, Virginia Democrats called on Northam to resign and allow Lieutenant Gov. Justin Fairfax, a black man, to take his place.

But then Vanessa Tyson, a college professor, accused Fairfax of sexually assaulting her in 2004 at the Democratic National Convention, an allegation Fairfax denied. A second woman, Meredith Watson, accused Fairfax of sexually assaulting her in 2000, while they were undergrads at Duke University. The Lt. Gov. retained the the same lawyers who represented Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who was accused of sexually abusing Dr. Christine Ford while the two were high school students. On Sunday, Fairfax called on the FBI to investigate.

The next in line, should both Northam and Fairfax step aside, is Attorney General Mark Herring. But shortly after the allegations against Fairfax were made public, Herring admitted that, he too, wore blackface in the 1980s

The Virginia Black Legislative Caucus has called for the resignations of both Gov. Northam and Lt. Gov. Fairfax. Gov. Northam has, however, earned the support of the National Black Farmers Association.

Now, with the state at a crossroads, Northam believes that he can be the one to lead Virginia in grappling with its own racist history. “I have thought about resigning, but I’ve also thought about what Virginia needs right now,” he said on Sunday. “And I really think that I’m in a position where I can take Virginia to the next level and it will be very positive.”

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate