I am not in that racist picture: Virginia Governor Ralph Northam

Resisting widespread calls for his resignation, Virginia’s embattled Governor on Saturday pledged to remain in office after disavowing a blatantly racist photograph that appeared under his name in his 1984 medical school yearbook.

In a tumultuous 24 hours, Gov. Ralph Northam on Friday apologised for appearing in a photograph that featured what appeared to be a man in blackface and a second person cloaked in Ku Klux Klan garb. In a video posted on Twitter, he said he could not “undo the harm my behaviour caused then and today”.

But by Saturday, he reversed course and said the racist photo on his yearbook profile page did not feature him after all. The Governor said he had not seen the photo before Friday, since he had not purchased the commemorative book or been involved in its preparation more than three decades ago. “It has taken time for me to make sure that it’s not me, but I am convinced, I am convinced that I am not in that picture,” he told reporters, calling the shot offensive and horrific.

While talking with reporters, Northam admitted that he had previously worn blackface around that time, saying he once had used shoe polish to darken his face as part of a Michael Jackson costume he fashioned for a 1984 dance contest in San Antonio, Texas, when he was in the U.S. Army. Mr. Northam said he regrets that he didn’t understand “the harmful legacy of an action like that.”