(LTE) Northam, Herring must resign

Protesters demanding his resignation gather outside the governor's mansion in Richmond, Virginia, on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019, after a racist photo of Gov. Ralph Northam was found in his 1984 medical school yearbook.


As Virginia Tech students and residents of the great Commonwealth of Virginia, we are ashamed, disappointed and angered by the news that has come out regarding our governor and state attorney general. The recent revelations that have come out about their past behaviors are shocking and unacceptable to say the least. We, as the College Republicans at Virginia Tech, believe that Gov. Northam and Attorney General Herring have no choice but to step down from their respective positions.

Unfortunately, it is no secret that racism has historically plagued Virginia. Fortunately, those ideologies and behaviors do not exist nearly to the extent today that they used to. Allowing two elected officials who have participated in crude, racist behaviors in the past to remain in office is clearly a step backward. We as Virginians, and as Americans, are eager to continue to progress forward and do everything in our power to make racist ideologies a thing of the past. Allowing our Governor and Attorney General to get by after having both admitted to wearing offensive blackface costumes is not only inappropriate, it’s simply wrong. According to an estimate from Census.gov, blacks made up 19.8 percent of Virginia’s population in 2018. How can we allow top-level state officials to continue in their roles after their actions have targeted and marginalized nearly a fifth of their constituents?

This is not the Jim Crow South of the past, it’s 2019 and we need to be holding ourselves, and especially our leaders, to a higher standard. Some have tried to make the case that “it was a different time” or “they were young” when Northam and Herring wore blackface. These defenses are weak at best. We’re talking about actions taken by men in their late teens and early 20s, during the 1980s. As for the age-based argument, are we not all in college? Are we not all in the same age group as they were at the time? We are, and the idea of putting on racist blackface costumes in an ill-conceived attempt at humor for a party would never enter our minds. As far as the times-based argument is concerned, we are talking about the 1980s, not the 1880s. There is no way they will convince anyone that as recently as 40 years ago they didn’t know any better than to participate in this kind of behavior.

The past actions of Northam and Herring have created a large, non-partisan call for their resignations. We as the College Republicans at Virginia Tech share this view and believe that Northam and Herring’s resignations are a necessary first step for the healing of the countless Virginians who feel betrayed by their elected officials. We as a state are moving forward, and there is no way we can accomplish this while being led by individuals whose behavior holds us back. We hope Northam and Herring will take responsibility for their actions and do what is necessary to best serve the Commonwealth of Virginia.