Following the announcement of a racist photo, members of his party have called for the resignation of Democratic US Governor Ralph Northam. The image from a university yearbook shows two figures: One wears the typical hooded robe of the Ku Klux Klan, which is responsible for numerous lynchings in the southern United States.
The other has a blackface face and hands painted black and wants to represent an African American. Blackfacing goes back to a racist tradition of the 19th century when actors painted black to imitate the dance of slaves.
Leaders are called to a higher standard, and the stain of racism should have no place in the halls of government. The Governor of Virginia should step aside so the public can heal and move forward together.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) 2 February 2019
The photo from the 1984 University Yearbook was first posted on the Web by a Web site and then picked up by several US media. Who of the two figures does the governor of the state of Virginia remain open? Shortly thereafter, the TV station CBS found a yearbook page from Northam’s time in the military. Among other things, his nickname “Coonman” can be found there. The word “Coon” is a racist term for a black person.
Northam apologized for the photo, saying it was “clearly racist and offensive” and in no way in line with its present values. A willingness to resign, however, he did not recognize in his personal statement.
Following the publication of the photo, the Republican Party and the NACP, which fought against discrimination against blacks, called on the 59-year-old governor to resign. Even from his own party, there was harsh criticism: All Democratic presidential candidates demanded his resignation.
California Senator Kamala Harris wrote on Twitter that “racism should have no place in government”. The politician, whose mother comes from India and father from Jamaica, wants to compete for the Democrats in the presidential election of 2020.
The picture called forth “centuries of anger, agony and racist violence,” said the African American US Senator Cory Booker a few hours after his application for the presidential candidacy of the Democrats. It shook confidence in Northam, so he should step down, Booker added.
The state of Virginia has been increasingly confronted in recent years with its racist past of slavery. In the summer of 2017, members of the Ku Klux Klans once again took to the streets in Charlottesville, a university town in the state, to protest the removal of the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. On the sidelines of the protests, a woman was killed.
Election of Democratic governor Northam in 2017 had been seen by many in the country as a victory over Donald Trump and as a sign against the legacy of the Confederation. In the American Civil War, the Confederate States had fought to preserve slavery.