Virginia GOP Lawmaker Caught Up in Blackface Scandal

Feb 8, 2019

Photo from Thomas Norment Yearbook
Credit Virginian Pilot

(AP) A top Virginia Republican served as an editor for a college yearbook that includes racial slurs and at least one image of a person in blackface.

Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment was managing editor of the 1968 yearbook for the Virginia Military Institute.

The yearbook includes a photo of a man in blackface standing with others in costumes and uses racial slurs to describe a student from Bangkok, Thailand.

The contents of the yearbook were first reported Thursday by The Virginian Pilot.

In a statement, Norment condemned the use of blackface. He said he was one of seven people who worked on the yearbook and "cannot endorse or associate" himself with everything in it.

Norment says he isn't featured in nor did he take any of the photos in question.

Northam Disappears

Governor Ralph Northam (D-VA)
Credit Northam campaign website

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has disappeared after saying he wanted to start an honest conversation about race.

Northam defied calls last Saturday for his resignation after a racist yearbook picture surfaced.

He has since hired a crisis communications firm, used underground tunnels at the Capitol to stay out of view and unveiled no strategy for how he is going to govern effectively over the next three years.

His best hope of survival in the short term might be the eruption of two other controversies that have since hit the two men next in line to succeed him.

But Northam's long-term plans are a mystery.

Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Mark Warner (D-VA)
Credit official photos

Virginia Senators

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia's two U.S. senators and seven Democratic congressmen have released a joint statement responding to the scandals that have engulfed the state's top three elected officials.

Similar to a recently released statement from the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, the senators and congressmen do not call for the immediate resignations of either Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax or Attorney General Mark Herring.

In the Thursday night statement, the Democrats say they want an investigation into a sexual assault allegation levied against Fairfax.

They also say they are "shocked and saddened" to learn that Herring wore blackface when he was in college. The Democrats say Herring has expressed "deep remorse" and must continue to have "in-depth discussions" if he is to regain the public's trust.

The statement says, "We have each publicly called for Governor Northam to resign."

Black Lawmakers Want Northam Resignation

Virginia State Capitol
Credit wikipedia

Black Virginia lawmakers have reiterated their call for Gov. Ralph Northam to resign, but stopped short of calling for Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax or Attorney General Mark Herring to step down.

The Virginia Legislative Black Caucus issued a statement Thursday night saying that a sexual assault allegation against Fairfax must be "thoroughly investigated."

The lawmakers say they stand by their earlier call for Northam to resign over a racist photo in his medical school yearbook that featured someone in blackface and another person in Klan robes.

Days after the Northam scandal broke, Herring admitted that he had worn blackface in college. The caucus says it appreciates the attorney general's honesty but is waiting for him to act further to "reassure" the state that he is fit to lead.

Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax (D-VA)
Credit official photo

Lawmakers Decline Comment on Lt. Gov.

Several top Democratic female lawmakers in Virginia are declining to comment on an allegation of sexual assault that a woman has made against the state's lieutenant governor.

House Minority Leader Del. Eileen Filler-Corn said Thursday that she was too busy to discuss which of the two conflicting    versions of events she believes.  She says there will be "more time to listen" after the legislative session.

The woman who made the allegation says Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax forced her to perform oral sex in 2004 in Massachusetts. Fairfax denies assaulting her. He says they had a consensual encounter.

Sen. Barbara Favola said "it's still a he-said, she-said," and suggested an investigation should be done in Massachusetts.

Del. Vivian Watts says she's not in a position to say whether the allegations are true, but believes there should be a legal review.