Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said in a press conference he now believes it is not him in a racist yearbook photo and that he has no recollection of taking the photo.
Northam told members of the media he was in touch with some of his former medical school colleagues who said they believed many of the pictures in the yearbook were mixed up.
Northam did not recall the picture being taken, he said, and said he was not involved in the production of the yearbook.
Northam said he is not going to resign.
The New York Times first reported Northam was making calls.
This contradicts what Northam said last night in his statement: “Earlier today, a website published a photograph of me from my 1984 medical school yearbook in a costume that is clearly racist and offensive.”
In Saturday’s press conference, Northam said he is not either of the people in the EVMS yearbook photo, and added that he did “darken his face” that same year, dressing as Michael Jackson for a dance competition.
He then said he “hopes people would see the contrast in (him) dressing up as Michael Jackson in blackface for a dance competition vs a KKK costume next to a person in blackface.”
He said he will not listen to the voices asking him to resign because it would be avoiding an honest conversation and ducking responsibility to reconcile, and asks Virginians to “accept him at his word” that the photo does not depict him.
He also said he is “collecting information” on the photo, and hopes to have more information in the coming days.
Saturday EVMS President Richard V. Homan released a statement addressing the yearbook page.
In part, the statement said:
“We share the outrage, alarm and sadness voiced by our alumni, the press and many on social media regarding the picture published in the 1984 student yearbook. The picture is shockingly abhorrent and absolutely antithetical to the principles, morals and values we hold and espouse of our educational and research institution and our professions. Racism and discrimination in any form is not acceptable.
I can find no explanation for how such a picture was able to be published in the past. This is a time for self-reflection and humility. On behalf of our beloved EVMS, I sincerely apologize for the past transgressions of your trust. We recognize the need to address and rectify any issues of racism and discrimination that arise — and will continue to take action to build a strong culture of diversity and inclusion.
Therefore, I shall convene urgent meeting of members of our senior management leadership and members of our Boards to address this issue holistically for EVMS. We will, of course, include students, residents, faculty and staff in this work.”