The Social Action Commission of the African Methodist Episcopal Church joins our voice with all those calling for the resignation of Governor Ralph Northam of Virginia.
There is no excuse for the racist photograph that appeared in his 1984 medical school yearbook. Posing for a picture with one person in blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan robe is never appropriate for anyone at any time. To have this picture taken and published in the same year that the Reverend Jesse Jackson was making his first run for President and Black, Brown and progressive men and women were rediscovering the political power of their communities was an act of white supremacist insensitivity and insanity. The message it was meant to send was intolerable then and must not be tolerated now.
There is no excuse for Governor Northam not releasing this information himself and then publicly repenting for this demeaning and offensive act. He should have done this before, during or immediately after the Democratic gubernatorial primary or the statewide election.
Governor Northam tried to keep hidden from the people his state a choice that could have started a difficult conversation that might have salvaged his political career and challenged the people of his state to deal with the divisive and destructive choices of white privilege, power, and arrogance. Such a conversation could have brought racial healing to Virginia, the home of the Confederate Government during the Civil War while being a model for the American nation during the Trump administration.
If Governor Northam is genuinely sorry and wants to move forward with integrity, it is time for him to step down as Governor of Virginia and allow the citizens of Virginia to begin the healing process under the leadership of the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia.
As the number of organizations, political groups and key politicians calling for his resignation grows, we urge the members of the African Methodist Episcopal Church to pray for Governor Northam and his family that this time they choose correctly--to resign and repent. Pray for the Commonwealth of Virginia that the faith communities there will let their voices be heard for the healing that comes only through justice, conversion and then forgiveness.
Bishop Reginald Jackson, President – Council of Bishops
Bishop Gregory Ingram, President – General Board
Bishop Adam Jefferson Richardson, Senior Bishop
Bishop Frank M. Reid, III, Chairperson – Social Action Commission
Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker, Director