The revelation of Gov. Ralph Northam’s racist photo from his 1984 medical school yearbook has dominated the news the last several days. Although Northam initially apologized, he has denied that he is in the depiction and has refused to resign as most Democrats and Republicans have strongly encouraged him to do.
On Saturday, the governor said “I am not the person in that photo that caused this stir,” Northam, a Democrat, told media packed into the Executive Mansion, referring to the image of a person dressed in blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan robe on his yearbook page. “Last night I finally had a chance to sit down and look at the photo in detail,” said Northam, adding that he does not own the yearbook and it was the first time he had ever seen the photo. “It is not me.”
He did admit to having dressed up like Michael Jackson, including the application of black shoe polish to his face in a dance competition.
OUR FREE OPINION
Northam’s second explanation is questionable. It is difficult to fathom that anyone would forget posing either as a KKK person or a polished black person. His initial response signaled a more truthful response—he apologized. If scientific evidence reveals that he is not depicted in the photograph, his credibility might be restored—but this is unlikely.
Moreover, his admission of the Jackson costume further strains his veracity and sensitivity to race issues. Regardless, the general perception of his ability to lead is now too strained. Regardless, The Gov. is entitled to due process of law and the public should not rush to immediate judgment.