Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam facing backlash over closed-door roundtable
DUMFRIES, Va. (FOX 5 DC) -- Virginia Governor Ralph Northam held a closed-door community roundtable Tuesday in Dumfries. According to the invite, he was expected to discuss issues of race and equality.
Northam, surrounded by members of his team who shielded him from being approached, would not speak or answer questions following the meeting at the Wilbur Porter Multipurpose Building. Instead, he made his way to a parked SUV telling FOX 5 he had no time, citing the need to beat traffic.
Many members of Virginia's African American community feel as though the official investigation into the governor's racist yearbook photo has not fully addressed Northam's role into how it got there in the first place.
In an email to announce Tuesday's roundtable, the governor wrote that he was "committed to listening to the voices of Virginians and engaging in an honest dialogue around confronting systemic issues of race and equity that persist to this day."
Northam faced intense pressure to quit in February after a racist picture surfaced from his 1984 medical school yearbook page.
He denied being in the picture but admitted to wearing blackface as a young man.
Most Democrats initially called on Northam to resign, but many have since resumed working with him.
This has left some of the leaders of African American groups asking how the governor plans to assuage their concerns.
"The first thing I did was reach out to some of the other NAACP leaders, local leaders to see if they had been invited to the event and several of them, especially the ones that have been more critical of the governor, had not been invited so I thought that was disconcerting that he would come to northern Virginia and not have some of the more vocal critics, especially from the NAACP, involved in this discussion," said Phillip E. Thompson, Esq., president of Diverse Engagement, LLC.
People FOX 5 spoke with leaving the meeting all said the governor was earnest and that the roundtable went well -- none of whom, however, would speak with us on camera.