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Virginia Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax Speaks on Northam: ‘Shocked and Saddened’ by Yearbook Images

Virginia Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax issued his first public statement this afternoon on the scandal surrounding Governor Ralph Northam.

Fairfax speaks personally about how the images upset him and says of Northam, “I cannot condone the actions from his past that, at the very least, suggest a comfort with Virginia’s darker history of white supremacy, racial stereotyping, and intimidation.”

Fairfax released his statement after Northam’s press conference this afternoon. The governor said he is not in the photo depicting one person in blackface and another in a KKK robe, but admitted to darkening his face for a dance contest to be Michael Jackson. Fairfax’s statement does not directly call on Northam to resign.

You can read the full statement here:

Like so many Virginians, I am shocked and saddened by the images in the Governor’s yearbook that came to light yesterday.

They are an example of a painful scourge that continues to haunt us today and holds us back from the progress we need to make.

As we commemorate 400 years since the first enslaved Africans were brought to Virginia, it is painful to experience such a searing reminder of the modern legacy of our nation’s original sin. And, as someone whose great-great-great grandfather was enslaved in Virginia, this episode strikes particularly close to home.

The Governor needed to apologize, and I am glad that he did so. He also reached out to me personally to express his sincere regrets and to apologize.

I have worked closely with Ralph Northam over many years. He has been a friend to me and has treated my family and me with hospitality and respect.

While his career has been marked by service to children, soldiers, and constituents, I cannot condone the actions from his past that, at the very least, suggest a comfort with Virginia’s darker history of white supremacy, racial stereotyping, and intimidation.

At this critical and defining moment in the history of Virginia and this nation, we need leaders with the ability to unite and help us rise to the better angels of our nature.

I remain committed to serving and helping to heal the Commonwealth moving forward. Now more than ever, we must make decisions in the best interests of the people of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

[image via screengrab]

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Josh Feldman is a Senior Editor at Mediaite. Email him here: josh@mediaite.com Follow him on Twitter: @feldmaniac