Northam’s racist yearbook photos haunt his career


Kyran Mitchell

Virginia government has been hit by numerous scandals involving high ranking government officials. In a recent photo found from Governor Ralph Northam’s 1984 Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook, there was a picture on his personal page depicting two unknown people, with one in blackface and the other in white robes. At first, Northam accepted responsibility for being one of the people in the photo, but the next day “Northam said he wasn’t sure if he was in the photo.”

These racist images shocked many, and immediately after the story broke, many from both sides of the political spectrum called for Northams resignation. In a tweet from Senator Bernie Sanders, he wrote “Gov. Northam should resign. Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax should step in and begin a new day for Virginia.” However, soon after the tweet, Fairfax would become involved in his own scandal.

Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax, who is next in line for the office of Governor if Northam were to resign, has recently come under fire for sexual harassment claim. Vanessa Tyson accused Fairfax of sexually assaulting her at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston. She had reported this incident when it occurred, but there were not any people able to corroborate her story, so it went unpublished.

Another woman by the name of Meredith Webster has accused Fairfax of engaging in a non consensual sexual encounter when the both attended Duke university. Due the severity of the accusations, many have called for the resignation of Fairfax from his position. However, the next person in line for the governor of Virginia has his own scandal.

Next in line for the Governor of Virginia is the Attorney General Mark Herring. He admitted to wearing black face in the 1980’s to “dress like rappers” with some of his friends. These scandals together may lead to a very interesting situation for the government of Virginia. If one resigns, it would stand to reason that all would resign due to the similar nature of Northam’s and Herring’s situations, and the severity of the Fairfax accusation has lead to increased calls for his resignation.

If all three were to resign, next in line is Kirk Cox, would take over the newly elected Democrat majority and replace it with a Republican leader. This may be controversial for citizens of Virginia, as the state was in a swing towards the Democratic side in the most recent elections. If there were to suddenly be a Republican leader for the state, it may be cause for outrage for those who voted blue in the most recent elections.

Since these scandals have broke, many wonder if Northam and Herring should be forced to resign because of their actions. The actions of these men were unequivocally racist and highly offensive to citizens across the nation, but are these thoughts and actions from over 30 years ago grounds enough to leave a position that was elected by the people? The people of Virginia will have their thoughts known, and only time will tell if these actions by these three men will lead to action against them.