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Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring Says He Wore Blackface in College
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=45857"><span class="small">Melanie Schmitz, ThinkProgress</span></a>   
Wednesday, 06 February 2019 15:21

Schmitz writes: "Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring (D) said in a statement Wednesday that he wore blackface during a college party in the 1980s, in what he claimed was a 'onetime occurrence.'"

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring. (photo: Bin Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring. (photo: Bin Clark/CQ Roll Call)


Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring Says He Wore Blackface in College

By Melanie Schmitz, ThinkProgress

06 February 19


The development comes as both Gov. Ralph Northam and Lieutenant Gov. Justin Fairfax are facing criticism over their own past behavior.

irginia Attorney General Mark Herring (D) said in a statement Wednesday that he wore blackface during a college party in the 1980s, in what he claimed was a “onetime occurrence.”

The development comes as both Gov. Ralph Northam and Lieutenant Gov. Justin Fairfax are facing criticism over their own past behavior.

“In 1980, when I was a 19-year-old undergraduate in college, some friends suggested we attend a party dressed like rappers we listened to at the time, like Kurtis Blow, and perform a song. It sounds ridiculous even now writing it. But because of our ignorance and glib attitudes – and because we did not have an appreciation for the experiences and perspectives of others – we dressed up and put on wigs and brown makeup,” he said.

“This was a onetime occurrence and I accept full responsibility for my conduct,” he added.

The announcement is another blow for Virginia Democrats, who are currently wrestling with another blackface scandal. Earlier this month, Northam faced heavy criticism after the conservative site Big League Politics posted a photo from the governor’s Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook page, which featured a man in black makeup standing next to a man in a Ku Klux Klan robe. Northam initially apologized for the photo, saying he did not remember dressing up in either costume, but later walked back his remarks, claiming he was certain neither of the men in the photo were him.

Both Democrats and Republicans at the state and national level have since called for Northam’s resignation.

Fairfax, who is next in line for the governor’s seat should Northam resign, is currently facing his own set of problems. Not long after reports of Northam’s yearbook page surfaced, Fairfax was accused in another Big League Politics report of sexually assaulting a woman during the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston. The woman posted a private Facebook status shortly after reports of Northam’s photo came out, writing that she was concerned he would be taking over the state’s top leadership position.

Fairfax denied the woman’s account, claiming their interaction had been consensual. In a statement Wednesday, he apologized for his initial response to the allegation, which some criticized as overly defensive and insensitive to the woman herself, saying, “…While this allegation has been both surprising and hurtful, I also recognize that no one makes charges of this kind lightly, and I take it and this situation very seriously.”

Should both Northam and Fairfax resign their posts, Herring would be next in line for the governorship. Already, he is facing separate calls to step down, as a result of Wednesday’s announcement.

As The Washington Post noted this week, Herring and Fairfax were both seen as popular candidates to replace Northam once his term is up in 2021. If they choose to step aside, it could make room for Republicans to secure a hold on state politics once more, with Virginia House of Delegates Speaker Kirk Cox next in line for the top spot.

Cox, who called on Northam to resign, has been hesitant in calling for the governor’s removal, though he admitted in early February that, “regardless of the veracity of the photo,” Northam had lost Virginians’ trust.

“I have worked with the governor,” he said at the time. “We’ve certainly not agreed on everything. I would say that this is just heartbreaking.”

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+8 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2019-02-06 15:44
So the governor has some mistake in his past and he is being forced to resign. Then the lieutenant governor got accused of sexual harassment and he will have to resign. Now the 3rd in line has confessed to blackface so he can't take the office.

The only ones left are republicans who will never admit to any indiscrete acts they did in the past. And a republican governor will refuse to sign Virginia's bill protecting woman who medically need a late term abortion.

At some point democrats are going to have to discover the principle of forgiveness and reform and accept the fact that many good people have shameful acts in their pasts.
 
 
+2 # JCM 2019-02-06 23:23
RR gets a thumbs up.
 
 
0 # Sir Morien 2019-02-07 08:54
"America has a very long history of these ugly people. In fact, they are the core of the American identity. We have made a lot of progress but not enough...I doubt that any of these ugly Americans even understand what they are."--Raskolnikov

Forgiveness is an absolutely WONDERFUL & liberating exercise. However, it must follow a humble & sincere acknowledgment of whatever wrong has been perpetrated. HOWEVER, I haven't seen or heard any impressive solicitations of forgiveness from the first two fellas. Herring has come clean, but only when it became clear that the threshold of acceptability for "racist, youthful indiscretions" has advanced. All of this reeks of race & male privilege that seem absolutely absent from the statements of the first two officials.

For what it's worth, I'd ask that they thoroughly acknowledge the wrongs that were done, citing the destructive impacts of their actions & the privileged motes in their perspectives that inspired them. Next, they might undertake some manner of compensatory action in an effort to redress their wrongs. From those foundations they can earnestly request forgiveness from those who have vested their trust in them as well as those who have been hurt by them.

The bottom line is the breach of public trust in their worldviews that inspired their actions. With politics being "the art of compromise" finding principle-cente red engagements of these wrongs is not likely.

Just a thought...