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The Probe Into Northam's Yearbook Photo Is Complete

Investigators still unsure if Virginia governor is pictured
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 22, 2019 11:53 AM CDT
Richard Homan, Dean of EVMS School of Medicine, speaks during a news conference Wednesday in Norfolk, Va.   (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
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(Newser) – An investigation ordered up by a Virginia medical school failed to determine whether Gov. Ralph Northam is in a 1984 yearbook photo of a man in blackface next to someone in a Ku Klux Klan hood. Investigators with a law firm hired by Eastern Virginia Medical School said Wednesday they couldn't "conclusively determine" the identities of either person in the 35-year-old photo, per the AP. They also said they couldn't discern how the picture was placed on Northam's yearbook page, but found no evidence it was placed there by mistake or as a prank. The findings are unlikely to have a major effect on state politics or Northam, who has been trying to regain his footing since Virginia politics was turned upside down in a matter of hours in early February after a conservative website posted a picture of Northam's medical school yearbook page.

The Democratic governor initially indicated that he was one of the people in the picture. But the next day—when it appeared his entire political base was gone, with the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, other key Democratic groups, and top allies calling on him to resign—Northam reversed course, saying he was convinced it was not him in the picture, while revealing that he did in fact wear blackface once decades ago, to look like Michael Jackson for a dance contest. Defying calls to resign, he said he wanted to focus his remaining three years in office on addressing longstanding racial inequities. And he's won praise from black lawmakers and others for several recent policy moves. Those include ending the suspension of driver's licenses for motorists with unpaid court fines and costs, and a review into how public schools teach the nation's racial history.

(Read more Ralph Northam stories.)

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