North America

US governor apologises for racist yearbook photo

There are calls for Virginia Governor Ralph Northam to step down after confirming he appeared in a racist photo in 1984. Source: AAP

The Virginia Governor has apologised for appearing in a photo featuring a person in blackface next to someone dressed in a Ku Klux Klan robe and hood.

Ralph Northam, the Democratic governor of the US state of Virginia, on Friday confirmed he appeared in a racist yearbook photo and said he is "deeply sorry."

"Earlier today, a website published a photograph of me from my 1984 medical school yearbook in a costume that is clearly racist and offensive," Northam said in a statement. 

"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," he said.

The page from the 1984 medical school yearbook dedicated to Ralph Northam includes a photo of one person in blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan outfit.
The page from the 1984 medical school yearbook dedicated to Ralph Northam includes a photo of one person in blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan outfit.
Eastern Virginia Medical School

The photo, which was carried by various US media outlets, depicts two people, one in blackface, the other dressed in a Ku Klux Klan robe and hood. 

Northam did not specify which outfit he was wearing in the image, which has prompted calls for him to resign.

The governor has also been under fire over remarks about a bill that would have rolled back restrictions on late-term abortions.

Republicans took particular issue with comments he made when asked if the bill would allow for abortions to be performed when a woman was already in labor. 

Virginia Gov Ralph Northam has apologised for appearing in a Ku Klux Klan outfit in his 1983 yearbook.
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has apologised for the photo but not specified which outfit he was wearing.
AAP

"If a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen. The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that's what the mother and the family desired," he said.

"And then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother."

Though his spokeswoman, Northam said his words were taken out of context, and were only meant to apply if a woman in dire circumstances went into labor.

The bill failed to advance out of committee, but Republicans including President Donald Trump pounced on the comments.

"Democrats are becoming the Party of late term abortion, high taxes, Open Borders and Crime!" Trump tweeted.

The US Supreme Court legalized abortion nationwide in 1973 with its decision in Roe v. Wade, but the issue remains one of the most politically divisive in the United States.

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