USA governor in racism row refuses to quit

Virginia Gov. Northam apologizes for 'racist' photo amid calls for resignation

HORRIFIC racist photo found in Democrat Governor Ralph Northam’s yearbook sparks apology

"I could spare myself from the hard path that lies ahead".

"And I said, 'Ralph, this is a day late and a dollar short". "I can not in good conscience chose the path that would be easier for me in an effort to duck my responsibility to reconcile".

The photo appeared in Northam's 1984 medical school yearbook. "His actions on display in this photo were racist, unacceptable and inexcusable at any age and any time", McAuliffe said.

"I believe in personal forgiveness & public repentance".

This story is breaking and will be updated.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam speaks to a crowd during a Women's Rights rally at the Capitol in Richmond, Va., Monday, Jan. 14, 2019.

The Democratic governor said Saturday that he, in fact, was not in the photo and had never even seen the yearbook until Friday.

In his first apology on Friday, Northam called the costume he wore "clearly racist and offensive", but he didn't say which one he had worn.

The photo also prompted a swift backlash from conservatives, including Jack Wilson, the chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, who called on Mr Northam to step down.

He also said he is "collecting information" on the photo, and hopes to have more information in the coming days.

Northam said if he felt he wasn't able to function efficiently as governor, he would re-visit the matter.

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Democratic Senator from NY and presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand said "Americans deserve to be respected by their leaders" and that racism could not be excused in government or anywhere else.

Governor Northam has questioned whether one of the two individuals wearing racist costumes in an old yearbook photo was really him.

"We fully appreciate all that he has contributed to our Commonwealth".

"But given what was revealed today, it is clear that he can no longer effectively serve as governor", the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus said.

The Virginian-Pilot newspaper tweeted a picture of the page which it said it obtained from the medical school library.

When pressed by the caucus, Northam said he did not know which person he was in the photo - the person in blackface or the person in the KKK outfit. Virginia GOP Chair Jack Wilson called for Northam's resignation nearly immediately after the yearbook page surfaced.

Northam is facing mounting pressure from within his own party to resign.

The photo, which was carried by various USA media outlets, depicts two people, one in blackface, the other dressed in a Ku Klux Klan robe and hood. Democratic Senator Jennifer McClellan, a well-known African-American lawmaker from Richmond, just shook her head when approached by a reporter seeking comment.

Northam made the shocking abortion remarks in an interview with WTOP-FM on Wednesday, as he attempted to explain a Democrat delegate's earlier remarks supporting a bill relaxing restrictions on late-term abortions. At a time when white nationalist movements are on the rise and becoming increasingly visible and openly violent, there is no room for excusing racist behavior.

However, others attempted to defend Mr Northam.

Northam spent years actively courting the black community in the lead up to his 2017 gubernatorial run, building relationships that helped him win both the primary and the general election. Now leaders from the Democrat party, including two 2020 presidential candidates, are calling for the Democratic governor to step aside.

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