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Virginia Has a New Blackface Scandal on Its Hands

Attorney General Mark Herring admits to donning blackface in college in 1980
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 6, 2019 11:19 AM CST
In this Oct. 24, 2018 file photo, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring is shown.   (Bob Brown/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP, File)

(Newser) – Who's next in line if Virginia's Democratic governor goes? The answer just got thornier. On Wednesday, the No. 3 in line copped to wearing blackface while in college in 1980. Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring issued a lengthy statement in which he said that as a 19-year-old he and some friends decided to dress as rappers they liked, "like Kurtis Blow," and perform at a party. "It sounds ridiculous even now writing it. But because of our ignorance and glib attitudes—and because we did not have an appreciation for the experiences and perspectives of others—we dressed up and put on wigs and brown makeup." The admission comes as Gov. Ralph Northam has thus far resisted calls to resign over a racist photo that appears on his page in his medical school yearbook. Herring was among those calling for his resignation.

Democratic Lieutenant Gov. Justin Fairfax, Northam's would-be successor, denied allegations of a 2004 sexual assault that emerged this week, saying the encounter was consensual. In his statement, Herring acknowledges that whether he can be forgiven is a "complicated" matter that "should not be decided by anyone but those directly affected by the transgressor ... In the days ahead, honest conversations and discussions will make it clear whether I can or should continue to serve as attorney general, but no matter where we go from here, I will say that from the bottom of my heart, I am deeply, deeply sorry for the pain that I cause with this revelation." The Washington Post reports that No. 4 in line is GOP Speaker of the House Kirk Cox. CNBC has Herring's full statement. (More on Virginia's political mess here.)

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