There’s a Blackface Photo on the Virginia Governor’s Yearbook Page

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Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam graduated from the Eastern Virginia Medical School in 1984, when he was in his mid-20s. In his yearbook entry, you can find a photo of a man in blackface next to another man wearing KKK robes.

The photo, the existence of which was first made public by the right-wing site Big League Politics earlier today, was later confirmed by the Virginian-Pilot newspaper, which found a copy of the yearbook in the school library.


While it’s yet to be confirmed whether or not Northam is one of the people in the photo, the other pictures in Northam’s yearbook entry clearly show him, and under the Klan/blackface photo it lists Northam’s alma mater, medical interest, and the quote, “There are more old drunks than old doctors in this world so I think I’ll have another beer.”

Northam was elected governor of Virginia in 2017. His campaign came under fire that year after it removed his running mate, current lieutenant governor Justin Fairfax—a black man—from his campaign posters. Both Northam and Fairfax were elected by significant margins.


Northam made no immediate comment; we’ve reached out to his office and will update if we hear back. Some of his colleagues in government, though, defended him.


Northam has enjoyed high approval ratings in his first year in office, although in recent days he’s been under a full-throated, disingenuous attack from the national GOP after comments he made about a bill in the Virginia legislature which would loosen restrictions on third-trimester abortions.

Update, 6:21 p.m. ET: Northam confirmed the yearbook page’s authenticity in a statement Friday night. His statement did not specify whether he wore blackface or was dressed as a Klansman. “I am deeply sorry for the decision I made to appear as I did in this photo and for the hurt that decision caused then and now,” his statement said.


Update, 7:41 p.m. ET: The NAACP is calling for Northam’s resignation.