WTOP: RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia slid deeper into political turmoil Wednesday when another top Democrat — Attorney General Mark Herring — admitted putting on blackface in the 1980s when he was a college student.
With Gov. Ralph Northam’s career in peril over a racist photo in his 1984 medical school yearbook, Herring issued a statement saying he wore brown makeup and a wig in 1980 to look like a rapper during a party as a 19-year-old at the University of Virginia.
Herring, 57, said in a tweet that he was “deeply, deeply sorry for the pain that I cause with this revelation.”
“Although the shame of that moment has haunted me for decades, and though my disclosure of it now pains me immensely, what I am feeling in no way compares to the betrayal, the shock, and the deep pain that Virginians of color may be feeling,” Herring wrote.
“Where they have deserved to feel heard, respected, understood and honestly represented, I fear my actions have contributed to them being forced to revisit and feel a historical pain that has never been allowed to become history.”
Herring wrote that as an elected official, he has felt an obligation to both acknowledge and address “racial inequities and systemic racism that we know exist in our criminal justice system, in our election processes and in other institutions of power.”
The attorney general issued the statement after rumors of a blackface photo of him had circulated at the Capitol for a day or more. But in his statement, he said nothing about the existence of such a photo.
In the statement, Herring said he and two friends dressed up to look like rappers they listened to, including Kurtis Blow, admitting: “It sounds ridiculous even now writing it.”
“That conduct clearly shows that, as a young man, I had a callous and inexcusable lack of awareness and insensitivity to the pain my behavior could inflict on others. It was really a minimization of both people of color, and a minimization of a horrific history I knew well even then.”
Asked if Herring should resign, Democratic state Del. Delores McQuinn, an African-American, did not answer directly. more