NAACP President calls on Ralph Northam to resign as pressure builds on Virginia governor

The president of the NAACP on Sunday joined a chorus of other voices calling on Ralph Northam to resign as the pressure mounts on him to leave the gubernatorial mansion in the wake of a racist photo appearing in his medical school yearbook.

NAACP President Derrick Johnson told ABC’s ‘This Week’ he doesn’t think Northam can survive the scandal surrounding the 1984 photo.

And former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe reiterated his call for his former lieutenant governor to step down and said it was ‘morally’ the right thing to do. 

NAACP President Derrick Johnson told ABC's 'This Week' he doesn't think Gov. Ralph Northam can survive the scandal

NAACP President Derrick Johnson told ABC's 'This Week' he doesn't think Gov. Ralph Northam can survive the scandal

NAACP President Derrick Johnson told ABC’s ‘This Week’ he doesn’t think Gov. Ralph Northam can survive the scandal

Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said it was 'morally' the right thing to do for his former lieutenant governor to resign

Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said it was 'morally' the right thing to do for his former lieutenant governor to resign

Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said it was ‘morally’ the right thing to do for his former lieutenant governor to resign

‘I called Ralph on Friday night. It was one of the hardest things I had to do, was my lieutenant governor,’ he said Sunday on CNN’s ‘State of the Union.’

‘We worked closely together. We did so many great things working together for the Commonwealth of Virginia. But once that picture with the blackface and the Klansman came out, there is no way you can continue to be the governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia,’ he added.

He indicated resignation was ‘morally the only right thing to do.’ 

Their voices added to the pressure on Northam to resign his office.

Northam has resisted the calls from Democratic Party leaders to step down after a medical school yearbook photo depicting a man in blackface was said to be Northam and appeared next to another man in a Ku Klux Klan robe. 

Originally Northam apologized for the photo but a day later he denied it was him, although he admitted once wearing black face for a performance as Michael Jackson in a dance competition. 

Virginia Democratic Rep. Donald McEachin told NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’ said he was surprised Northam said it wasn’t him in the picture. 

‘I haven’t spoken to him since Friday, I believe. And at that time he was apologetic for having been in the photograph and that sort of thing. So, I was really surprised when the next day he comes out and says it’s not him,’ he said. 

Amid Northam’s reluctance to leave, speculation has mounted the Virginia state legislature could institute impeachment proceedings.  

But McAuliffe expressed faith Northam would eventually resign.

‘Ralph is a good, moral, decent man, and may have made some mistakes in his past. We all have made mistakes. Ralph will do the right thing for the Commonwealth of Virginia. He will put Virginia first,’ he said on CNN.

‘And I think that will happen relatively soon. He’s worked hard,’ he added. 

Johnson said Gov. Northam should resign even if he isn’t in the photo because he never previously disclosed its existence.

‘He finished medical school, was received a yearbook with a racist picture on his page in the yearbook, and he has said nothing about it. He acknowledged that that was a part of something that was taking place during that period of time and whether he actively participated or passively was present, he – not one time up until this point – acknowledged that this took place, objected to that behavior or stated that, you know, I had a different upbringing and I was a part of a southern culture that embraced this racist, vile behavior, and I’m a changed man now and as a result of that I denounce that activity, I denounce my participation and we’re going to move with public policy to remedy these issues,’ he said.

Congressional Black Caucus Chair Karen Bass said Northam 'needs to resign immediately to stop the pain in Virginia, and, frankly around the nation'

Congressional Black Caucus Chair Karen Bass said Northam 'needs to resign immediately to stop the pain in Virginia, and, frankly around the nation'

Congressional Black Caucus Chair Karen Bass said Northam ‘needs to resign immediately to stop the pain in Virginia, and, frankly around the nation’

Virginia Democratic Rep. Donald McEachin told NBC's 'Meet the Press' said he was surprised Northam said it wasn't him in the picture

Virginia Democratic Rep. Donald McEachin told NBC's 'Meet the Press' said he was surprised Northam said it wasn't him in the picture

Virginia Democratic Rep. Donald McEachin told NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’ said he was surprised Northam said it wasn’t him in the picture

Black Congressional leaders added their voice to the chorus calling on Northam to resign.

Congressional Black Caucus Chair Karen Bass also said Northam should resign because he never admitted such a photo existed. 

‘I think he’s been completely dishonest and disingenuous,’ she said on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press.’ ‘He knew this picture was there and he could have come clean and talked to African Americans that he’s close to decades ago and I think given the overall climate around race in this country especially over the last two years, it’s completely unacceptable. The good news is though that there is a zero tolerance and people do understand and he needs to resign immediately to stop the pain in Virginia, and, frankly around the nation.’ 

The voices on Sunday are added to the widespread calls among top Democrats for Northam to leave, including from Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, former Attorney General Eric Holder, Sen. Cory Booker, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren. 

As well, both of Virginia’s Senators, Democrats Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, joined with the dean of the state’s Congressional delegation, Rep. Bobby Scott, in a rare joint statement calling for Northam to step down. 

President Donald Trump also weighed in, calling Northam’s behavior ‘unforgivable.’

‘Democrat Governor Ralph Northam of Virginia just stated, ‘I believe that I am not either of the people in that photo.’ This was 24 hours after apologizing for appearing in the picture and after making the most horrible statement on ‘super’ late term abortion. Unforgivable!’ 

In a bizarre press conference on Saturday, Northam denied appearing in the photograph that he on Friday apologized for, but he admitted that he did wear blackface for a Michael Jackson costume the same year.

Ralph Northam in a Saturday press conference denied being in a racist photograph in his 1984 school yearbook and is refusing all calls to step down

Ralph Northam in a Saturday press conference denied being in a racist photograph in his 1984 school yearbook and is refusing all calls to step down

Ralph Northam in a Saturday press conference denied being in a racist photograph in his 1984 school yearbook and is refusing all calls to step down

A photo on Northam's yearbook page depicts a man in blackface and another in a KKK robe. Northam said he felt sick when he saw the image recently, despite covering his face in shoe polish to emulate Michael Jackson

A photo on Northam's yearbook page depicts a man in blackface and another in a KKK robe. Northam said he felt sick when he saw the image recently, despite covering his face in shoe polish to emulate Michael Jackson

A photo on Northam’s yearbook page depicts a man in blackface and another in a KKK robe. Northam said he felt sick when he saw the image recently, despite covering his face in shoe polish to emulate Michael Jackson

The 59-year-old from Nassawadox admitted dressing up as the late singer, wearing similar footwear, a glove and shoe polish to look like an African-American person.

During the excruciating appearance in the Executive Mansion on Capitol Hill in Richmond, he said he later learned from a friend Seth that doing so for a dance competition was indeed inappropriate and he apologized to his friend at the time.

He was 25 when he deemed it okay to cover his face in shiny black wax at least two decades after the Civil Rights movement decried it.

Northam appeared to try to soften the offensive occasion by revealing he won the contest he did it for.  

Making his revelation worse, he told attendees the reason why he only wore a ‘little bit’ of shoe polish was because it’s difficult to remove. 

‘I don’t know if anybody’s tried this…’ he said to the shocked room. But it didn’t explain why he was wearing blackface to show off his dance talent during the skit.

Northam told the audience during question time: ‘I have discussed this with a person of color. I apologized to him.’ 

Despite his revelation about donning blackface to do the Moonwalk, Northam said he felt sick after seeing the image of people wearing a Ku Klux Klan robe and blackface and would remember if he had done so.

He said he admitted to being in the photo because didn't buy his school yearbook

He said he admitted to being in the photo because didn't buy his school yearbook

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, pauses during a news conference in the Governors Mansion at the Capitol in Richmond

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, pauses during a news conference in the Governors Mansion at the Capitol in Richmond

Northam said he admitted to being in the photo because didn’t buy his school yearbook and hadn’t seen it but realized on reflection he wasn’t in the picture

The yearbook page from Northam's 1984 medical school yearbook is seen above. He claimed he had not bought or seen his yearbook in the last 34 years

The yearbook page from Northam's 1984 medical school yearbook is seen above. He claimed he had not bought or seen his yearbook in the last 34 years

The yearbook page from Northam’s 1984 medical school yearbook is seen above. He claimed he had not bought or seen his yearbook in the last 34 years

He made the contradictory statement to a room full of people eager to know why he admitted to something he claims now not to have done, but Northam didn’t manage to provide a clear explanation. 

‘When my staff showed me the photo in question I had seen it for the first time,’ he claimed. ‘I didn’t purchase the yearbook and didn’t know they appeared on my page. On a yearbook page that belongs to me. It is disgusting.’ 

Northam added that his former classmates backed up his belief he was not in the photo but said he didn’t ever see the offending photo.

He jumped ahead of people being skeptical by adding: ‘Many people will find this difficult to believe me.’

 

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