RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia sank deeper into political turmoil Wednesday when another top Democrat — Attorney General Mark Herring — admitted putting on blackface in the 1980s, when he was a college student.
With Gov. Ralph Northam’s career in peril over a racist photo in his 1984 medical school yearbook, Herring issued a statement saying he wore brown makeup and a wig in 1980 to look like a rapper during a party as a 19-year-old at the University of Virginia.
Herring, 57, said he was “deeply, deeply sorry for the pain that I cause with this revelation.”
The disclosure further roils the top levels of Virginia government. Democratic Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, who would be next in line if Northam were to resign, was confronted with sexual misconduct allegations earlier this week and denied the accusations, calling them a political smear.
Herring would be next in line to be governor after those two men.
In the statement, Herring said he and two friends dressed up to look like rappers they listened to, including Kurtis Blow, admitting: “It sounds ridiculous even now writing it.”
“That conduct clearly shows that, as a young man, I had a callous and inexcusable lack of awareness and insensitivity to the pain my behavior could inflict on others. It was really a minimization of both people of color, and a minimization of a horrific history I knew well even then.”
Herring, who plans to run for governor in 2021, is among those who have urged Northam to resign as governor after the discovery of a photo of someone in blackface on his 1984 medical school yearbook page. The photo that appeared in Northam’s half-page profile shows someone in blackface standing next to another person in a Ku Klux Klan hood and robe.