WASHINGTON (FOX 5 DC) - Outraged, shocked, and angry.
That’s the reaction from two presidents of NAACP chapters in Virginia after Governor Ralph Northam told FOX 5 he has “turned the page” on the blackface scandal stemming from a racist photo found in his medical school yearbook. The photo depicts one man in blackface and another in a KKK robe.
When the photo initially made headlines back in February, the governor first apologized for appearing in it. The next day he denied he was in the photo but said he had worn blackface before, while imitating Michael Jackson in a dance contest.
“We’ve turned the page. Virginians want to move forward,” Northam said Tuesday, two weeks after an investigation paid for by Eastern Virginia Medical School failed to determine whether or not Northam was in the photo. The impromptu question and answer session came after a press conference in Arlington during which the governor spoke about affordable housing for veterans.
“As you know there was an investigation that was very thorough by Eastern Virginia Medical School. You know what has happened in the commonwealth of Virginia. I regret that. I have addressed that. But today we are talking about gun violence and how to save lives in Virginia,” Northam told Fox 5, hours after calling for a special legislative session to address gun violence during a separate press conference in Richmond.
When asked what he’d say to Virginians who are not ready to move on from the yearbook scandal, he added, “I think they need to watch what’s going on in Virginia. Again, we’re leading Virginia. Good things are happening. So it’s time to move forward.”
In response, the two NAACP presidents told Fox 5 they were appalled.
“I was in disbelief that he would have the audacity to try to make black Virginians move past, or make us move past these images as if it’s over, it doesn’t mean anything because he’s ready to move on,” said Portsmouth NAACP President James Boyd.
“If it’s not you, then who? And if he doesn’t want to disclose that, there is no moving forward,” added Loudoun County NAACP President Pastor Michelle C. Thomas. “You can’t move forward on a lie. You’ve gotta tell the truth about it.”
Northam’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.