Ralph Northam Needs to Resign From Office

Madison Venckus, News Editor

Photos from Virginia Gov., Ralph Northam’s medical school yearbook resurfaced after 35 years on Friday. One photo in particular featured himself and another student— one wearing blackface and the other dressed in a Ku Klux Klan robe and hood. Northam did not state which one was him but did apologize for his decision to appear in the photo. Following that apology, Northam changed his story and claimed he was not in the photo at all. Elected officials and activists groups are calling for his resignation.  

Following his apology, Northam announced via Twitter that he spent the past year “fighting for a Virginia that works better for all people,” and he would continue to do so throughout the rest of his term, which ends in January 2022.

I don’t consider Northam to be irredeemable, but I also don’t find it fair for him to tell Virginians he’s chosen to stay in the governor’s position following his acknowledgment of his loss of their trust.

Although I’m disgusted that two men found it acceptable to dress that way, I am most in awe of Northam lying and changing his story following his apology for the photo. I think people become more indecisive when it comes to holding other accountable for action in the past. But what I find the most concerning are the decisions he’s making now.

Northam’s apology video posted to Twitter on Friday night seemed sincere. “The racist and offensive attitudes it represents does not reflect the person I am today, or the way that I have conducted myself as a soldier, a doctor and a public servant,” he said. “I am deeply sorry. I cannot change the decisions I made, nor can I undo the harm that my behavior caused then and today, but I accept responsibility for my past actions and I am ready to do the hard work of regaining your trust.”

Northam changed his story during Saturdays press conference. He originally admitted to being in the photo and apologized, but following that he claimed he had never seen the photo before. The Huffington post stated that The Virginia Legislative Black Caucus (VLBC) released a statement saying it was continuing to call for Northam’s resignation. “The caucus said that the governor changing his story damaged his ability to regain the public’s trust.”

He may believe he is making the right decision to remain in his position, but I don’t believe he needs to remain in office in order to regain Virginians trust. He should resign in a way that will emphasize the stigma surrounding racism. A powerful gesture like this can give him a boost towards regaining the trust in him.