Credit: Screen grab from Twitter
Democrat Gov. Ralph Northam Starts Redemption Tour With Disastrous Slavery Gaffe

Democrat Gov. Ralph Northam Starts Redemption Tour With Disastrous Slavery Gaffe

″We’re all on a learning curve.”

Besieged Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam sat down with “CBS This Morning” in yet another failed attempt at damage control of a blackface scandal that has threatened his political career.

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In a clip released Sunday, Host Gayle King gave Northam the opportunity to discuss his experience in handling of allegations that he appeared in a racist photo in his 1984 medical school yearbook, which he has denied while admitting to wearing blackface in another moment of his youth.

“We are now at the 400-year anniversary — just 90 miles from here in 1619, the first indentured servants from Africa landed on our shores in Old Point Comfort, what we call now Fort Monroe … ” Northam began before King cut in.

“Also known as slavery,” she said.

Northam nodded: “Yes.”

Whereas African slaves were forcefully brought to the United States in the 18th and 19th centuries for lives of brutal enslavement, indentured servants were contracted workers who came to the country to work in exchange for passage, room, board, and freedom dues.

Many liberals, already upset that King had given Northam a platform, were seriously triggered.

Conservatives, meanwhile, called out the Democrats for failing to push Northam out of office already.

Northam responded to backlash over the clip with a statement later Sunday saying that he is “still learning and committed to getting it right.”

In the CBS interview, which was broadcast in full on Monday, Northam again refused to step down amid widespread and bipartisan calls for his resignation.

“Virginia needs someone that can heal,” he told King. “There’s no better person to do that than a doctor. Virginia also needs someone who is strong, who has empathy, who has courage and who has a moral compass. And that’s why I’m not going anywhere.”

Northam said that he has internalized a number of lessons from the controversy, including that he was “born into white privilege” and that the use of blackface is offensive.

“Yes, I knew it in the past,” he said. “But reality has really set in.”

King pressed: “You didn’t know the history, know that it was offensive before?”

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″We’re all on a learning curve,” Northam responded. “Certainly, Ms. King, I’m not the same person now at age 59 that I was back in my early 20s.”

He added: “I don’t have any excuses for what I did in my early life.” But I can just tell you that I have learned. I have a lot more to learn. I’m a better person.”

Earlier this month, an image surfaced from Northam’s Eastern Virginia Medical yearbook page that shows to men in racist costumes: one in black face and the other in a Ku Klux Klan robe. The governor initially admitted to being in the photo. But he then changed his story in a bizarre press conference, claiming he was not pictured but wore blackface as part of a Michael Jackson costume in a dance competition that same year.

Democrats, who have staked out a hardline position on racist and sexist behavior in their party, have had their averred ideals tested as the second- and third-ranking Democrats in Virginia have subsequently been embroiled in scandals of their own, threatening the party’s control of the state’s government.

Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, who is first in line to replace Northam, has been accused by two women of sexual assault, which he has strongly denied. Attorney General Mark Herring admitted last week that he wore blackface at a party in 1980.

At the same time, a controversy has raged about Northam and state Democrats’ backing of a bill that would legalize third-trimester abortions. The governor had seemed to suggest last week that the legislation would allow doctors to kill unwanted babies immediately after birth, though his office later pushed back on that interpretation.

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Cover image: Ralph Northam speaks to “CBS This Morning” host Gail King in a clip from an interview released on Feb. 10, 2019. (Screen grab from Twitter)



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