Historians 'mystified' by Governor Ralph Northam 'indentured servants' remark

Ralph Northam refuses to resign despite growing backlash over a picture on his medical school yearbook page featuring a man wearing blackface and another person in a Ku Klux Klan outfit.

The Governor still contends that he is not in the photograph of one person in blackface and another in KKK robes but could not say how it wound up on his yearbook page, nor why he initially took responsibility for it, other than to say that he was "shocked" when he first saw it on an iPhone the afternoon of February 1.

"Just 90 miles from here in 1619, the first indentured servants from Africa landed on our shores in Old Point Comfort, what we call now Fort Monroe", Northam started to say - but CBS host Gayle King interrupted him.

Patrick Hope, a fellow Democrat and member of the Virginia House of Delegates, announced Friday that he meant to introduce articles of impeachment against Fairfax unless he resigned by Monday.

If the governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general all left office or were removed, the speaker of the House would become governor.

In his first interview since the scandal erupted, a chastened Northam told The Washington Post on Saturday that the uproar has pushed him to confront the state's deep and lingering divisions over race, as well as his own insensitivity. Hunter said Fairfax deserves due process over sexual assault allegations made by two women. Northam denied being in that picture but admitted to dressing in blackface for a social event that same year.

Two women have also accused Virginia Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax of rape.

Fairfax also addressed Watson's claim in his statement, saying: "Regarding Ms. Watson, I knew Ms. Watson in college both before and after the encounter, and she never said to me that our interaction was not consensual or caused her any discomfort". A public relations firm representing Watson provided The Associated Press with a 2016 email exchange with a female friend and 2017 text exchanges in which Watson said Fairfax had raped her.

Her call, however, quickly evoked a barrage of negative responses online, with people criticising both her and the Democratic Party in general.

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has vowed he is "not going anywhere" despite calls for him to resign after admitting he had worn blackface.

King quickly rebuked him: "Also known as slavery".

The Democratic state lawmaker said he might ask the state house to begin discussing impeaching Fairfax if he did not resign signaled on Monday he was in no rush to act.

Northam's pledge Sunday to work on healing the state's racial divide was the second he made in as many days.

There have been wide calls for Fairfax, an African-American, to quit in the wake of the assault allegations, but he has refused and instead called for an investigation.

"Well again, we have worked very hard, we've had a good first year, and I'm a leader. I've been in some very difficult situations, life-and-death situations..."

Attorneys for a woman who has accused Virginia's embattled lieutenant governor of sexual assault say their client is "prepared to testify at impeachment proceedings and to cooperate with law enforcement in any investigation".

A number of other top Virginia Democrats have also called for Fairfax to resign, including members of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus.

  • Rogelio Becker