Virginia residents weigh in on Ralph Northam racist photo controversy


Former Virginia Gov. Douglas Wilder, who is one of two African-Americans ever elected governor in United States history, tweeted on Saturday calling for Northam's resignation.

"He made a mistake".

Northam said on Saturday he had donned blackface in the 1980s to portray pop star Michael Jackson in a dance competition.

Northam's office did not respond to questions about his plans on Monday, but local media outlets reported he was meeting with advisers. "We need to refocus on the task at hand, and it would help the commonwealth if he would step aside soon, very soon". In 1984 when the photograph on Northam's yearbook page was taken, civil rights activist Jesse Jackson was running for president.

Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, both former governors of Virginia, and Congressman Bobby Scott added to the calls for Northam to step down after watching the press conference.

The lieutenant governor hasn't demanded that Northam resign.

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According to CNN's Sara Sidner, Northam's colleagues love him and "don't think he has a racist bone in his body", but are "struggling" with his ability to properly explain his controversial yearbook photo from medical school.

However he did admit to using shoe polish to darken his skin in order to impersonate Michael Jackson at a dance contest in San Antonio, Texas, where he did a paediatrics internship, that same year.

Northam did get support from former Virginia Representative Jim Moran, who said there's a risk of rushing to judgment before all the facts are known and that redemption should be considered. He called the press conference an opportunity "for him to resign gracefully and we are disappointed that he didn't do that". "I think that would obviously be less pain for everyone".

If Northam does resign, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax would become the second African-American governor in the state's history. Additionally, Trump Administration policies such as the Muslim travel ban, immigration, and other areas are clearly rooted in an ideology that at the very least appeals to the so-called alt-right and anti-immigrant groups that clearly base their views on racism and bigotry. Meanwhile the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus wrote, "Another moment should not pass before we hear Governor Northam do the honorable thing and resign".

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Stuart Saunders, a 65-year-old Richmond resident, said he didn't vote for the governor.

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"That's the boundary. Everything else is not", said Carol Anderson, Emory University African American studies professor and author of 'White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide'. "I just don't think that should happen". In a sign Monday of the challenges he could face, Katherine Rowe, president of the College of William & Mary, canceled an appearance by Northam at an event this Friday because his presence would "fundamentally disrupt the sense of campus unity we aspire to".

"He's supposed to be ....the figure that we all look up to".

Referring to the allegation against him, Fairfax said he was not surprised it came at a critical time for the office of governor: "It's at that point that they come out with the attacks and the smears".

Brooks said she was anxious Northam would have to expend too much time dealing with his current problem. "This behavior is not in keeping with who I am today and the values I have fought for throughout my career", he had said. The outlets said they had been unable to substantiate her claim. "It's not a new thing".

Less than half an hour later he followed that up with a tweet saying, "Ed Gillespie, who ran for Governor of the Great State of Virginia against Ralph Northam, must now be thinking Malpractice and Dereliction of Duty with regard to his Opposition Research Staff".

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