Jerry Falwell Jr.'s attempt to make a face mask joke at the expense of his state's governor has backfired—and now it's even prompted what the New York Times calls a "rare apology" and deleted tweet from the Liberty University president. It all started when Falwell complained about Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam's coronavirus mask mandate late last month, tweeting out a photo of the now-infamous blackface photo that got Northam into hot water. Falwell's accompanying comment: "If I am ordered to wear a mask, I will reluctantly comply, but only if this picture of Governor Blackface himself is on it!" Per WDBJ7, Falwell has now scrapped that tweet and is apologizing for it after heated reaction, including professors at his university resigning (or saying they would) and an open letter from dozens of African American Liberty alumni condemning his online post.
Falwell's mea culpa came via three tweets on Monday. "After listening to African American LU leaders and alumni over the past week and hearing their concerns, I understand that by tweeting an image to remind all of the governor's racist past I actually refreshed the trauma that image had caused and offended some by using the image to make a political point," he posted. "I ... apologize for any hurt my effort caused, especially within the African American community." The apology and deleted tweet had been one of the demands in the alumni open letter, as well as a future meeting with Falwell, per WSLS. Liberty University put out its own statement echoing Falwell's apology. "This man saw the error in his ways," one of the co-authors of the alumni letter said on Facebook Live. "I still support the university, I want to support Jerry Falwell Jr." More on how the controversy is playing out here. (Read more Jerry Falwell Jr. stories.)