#ICYMI, this is why this project matters in Virginia today:
- Governor Ralph Northam’s 1984 medical yearbook page with photos submitted by students including a photo of a person in blackface and a klan costume was released to the media.
- Governor Northam admitted that he was in the photo and apologized.
- The following day, Governor Northam reversed his position claiming it was not him; however, he has done blackface in the past.
- Following a scandal breaking with the Governor Justin Fairfax, it came to light that the Attorney General Mark Herring has also put on black face in his past. Herring is the third person in the line of succession for the Governor’s office.
- Anti-fascist community members uncovered evidence of a Virginia Capitol Police officer having possible affiliations to a white supremacist organization. Virginia Capitol Police patrol the Capitol grounds which includes the Governor’s mansion.
- Then blackface photos from a fraternity party surfaced in the yearbook of the next person in line for succession, Speaker of the House Kirk Cox which, while they were not photos of Speaker Cox, made people see the issue of offensive photos in yearbooks is more prevalant than originally realized.
Virginians have continued to call for the resignation of Governor Ralph Northam as these scandals continue to break. Virginians have called for his resignation on social media, in protests, and most recently in an open letter to First Lady Pam Northam. Governor Northam, has refused to listen and in the midst of his refusal to leave office additional politicians have fallen under scrutiny.
With the potential of multiple of our elected officials having racist behavior and imagery in their past, we are in a crisis of leadership. Furthermore, this is all occurring during Black History month in 2019 which is the 400th commemoration of the first African human trafficked to the Commonwealth of Virginia. We live in the former Capital of the Confederacy surrounded by countless racist monuments not far from Charlottesville where in 2017 white supremacists gathered for the violent Unite the Right rally that resulted in violence and murder of Heather Heyer. Racism is alive and well in the Commonwealth of Virginia especially with our elected leaders and this must end.
As our elected officials make policy and work on the people’s behalf, it is extremely concerning for these incidents to come to light after we have cast our vote because we see the evidence of their bias in their decision making. As Jamil Smith succinctly put in his recent Rolling Stone piece, “Blackface is Just One Part of the Problem.” It is for that reason we are seeking to fund HBCU students researching our current and future elected officials. Please consider donating and sharing this GoFundMe to support the people of the Commonwealth of Virginia moving forward past our horrific past.
***NOTE: we are looking for a non-profit who already does work in this field to support the student’s efforts. If you are a non-profit who is interested in supporting this effort, please contact us at [email redacted] ****