Gov. Northam Says He'll Focus on Racial Equality in Remainder of Term - NBC4 Washington

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Gov. Northam Says He'll Focus on Racial Equality in Remainder of Term

Gov. Northam spoke to the Washington Post in his first interview since a 1984 photo with racist imagery surfaced

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    Virginia's embattled governor says he wants to spend the remaining three years of his term pursuing racial "equity."

    Gov. Ralph Northam told The Washington Post on Saturday that there is a higher reason for the "horrific" reckoning over a racist photograph that appeared in his medical school yearbook.

    The 59-year-old Democrat gave his first interview to the newspaper since the photograph surfaced. The image shows a man in blackface beside someone in a Ku Klux Klan robe.

    Northam denies being in the photo. He has admitted to wearing blackface at a 1984 dance party.

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    Questions continue to swirl around Richmond as the state's top three elected leaders face scandals putting their careers in question. Rev. Al Sharpton called on Gov. Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring to resign after both said they have used blackface. He also said sex assault allegations against Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax should be investigated.

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    He told the Post that he overreacted by apologizing for the photo.

    Northam has ignored widespread calls to resign. He said his experience puts him in a good position to explore the issue of "white privilege" and to pursue an agenda of racial reconciliation.

    Still, a local NAACP leader says that even if Northam stays in office, he should prioritize policy that advances racial equality.

    Phillip Thompson, the former president of the Loudoun County NAACP chapter, said that he does not expect Northam to resign. 

    "At this point, we need to see something concrete out of Ralph Northam besides a bunch of lip service where he shows up to a couple churches and a couple events, Thompson told News4. "Let's see some policies."

    The man who would replace him, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, is staring down his own career-threatening controversy after two women accused him of sexual assault. Many Democrats have called on him to resign.

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