February 07, 2019

State scandal gets deeper: Virginia Attorney General admits he wore blackface to a college party

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Virginia's Democratic officials are going through even more turmoil as the attorney general just admitted to wearing blackface when he was a teen. 

Mark Herring freely admitted that he wore blackface when he was 19 years old for a college party. Just the week before, he advised Ralph Northam to resign for a similar discovery. 

Herring is third in line to take the governor's office in Virginia. The Attorney General follows Northam and Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax. The latter was just accused of sexual assault during the 2004 Democratic National Convention.

Fairfax denied the allegations, but all three Democrats are in hot water. Herring released a statement of apology in hopes of diminishing the backlash. It did little to curb the calls for resignation on Twitter.

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Part of the two page statement read: 

"I am sure we have all done things at one time or another in our lives that show poor judgement [...] I have a glaring example from my past I have thought about with deep regret in the many years since."

Herring then explained the circumstances of the 1980 incident. As an undergraduate, he and his friends decided to dress up as their favorite rappers. 

Twitter users who read the story could not help but point out that it was just five days ago he called for Northam to resign.

 

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Herring further wrote: 

"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." 

Herring claimed it was a "onetime occurrence" which he accepts full responsibility for. He pointed to a "lack of awareness and insensitivity." Some people appreciated the gesture.

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Towards the end, Herring insisted: 

"This conduct is in no way reflective of the man I have become in the nearly 40 years since."

In contrast, he suggested that it was "no longer possible" for Northam to stay in office due to the pictures that were unearthed last week. Northam initially apologized for the photos before saying it wasn't him. 

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The offensive photographs from 1984 were retrieved from the governor's medical school yearbook. It featured a man in blackface and another with a Ku Klux Klan mask. 

The public said Northam was the one in blackface. On Saturday, he firmly denied that he was either person in the picture although he did confess to putting shoe polish on his face to imitate Michael Jackson for a 1984 dance contest.

He was subsequently attacked on Twitter for the bizarre twist.

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Herring willingly gave up his position as co-chair of the Democratic Attorney Generals Association on Wednesday. The temporary step down will remain until a conclusive move is made.

Similarly, Northam is still on shaky ground as people and organizations continue to call for his resignation. If all three men end up stepping down, Republican House of Delegates Kirk Cox is set to be governor. 

He would be the first of his party to hold the title since 2014. Furthermore, Herring had already made plans to run for governor office in 2021. The outcome of the current situation should indicate whether he will still do so or not.

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