Hillary Clinton and U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Saturday night joined a host of other prominent Democrats in calling for Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam to resign amid a firestorm over a photo showing a man in blackface and another in Ku Klux Klan garb in his 1984 medical school yearbook page.
“This has gone on too long. There is nothing to debate. He must resign,” Clinton wrote in a Twitter message.
The former Democratic presidential nominee’s tweet included a retweet of a news story that said both of Virginia’s U.S. senators — including Clinton’s 2016 running mate, Tim Kaine — also had called on Northam to step down.
And it came just a short time after a post by Ocasio-Cortez, the freshman congresswoman from New York.
“Northam must resign, and those who try to help him stumble past this deserve scrutiny,” she wrote. “If you can’t understand how painful + eroding this is to American society, let alone the state of Virginia, take some time to read up this weekend.”
Meanwhile on Saturday, the president of the Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, the school that Northam attended and that produced the yearbook, vowed to review its past yearbooks in wake of the Northam controversy.
“In concert with our Board of Visitors’ leadership, I will direct that an external investigation be conducted as soon as possible to review all of our past yearbooks, determine the processes for publishing those yearbooks; discover what, if any, administrative oversight was exercised; examine our campus culture; and provide recommendations for future actions,” school President Dr. Richard Homan said in a statement posted to the school’s website.
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“We will move quickly to assemble an appropriate panel to conduct this investigation — a panel of advocates for diversity and inclusion representative of our greater community, including African Americans and other people of color; a diverse panel that can apply a critical eye to this issue,” he added.
Interviews conducted by the Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk with EVMS alumni indicated that students around the time the Democratic governor attended the school were each given a half-page to submit their own photos.
“No one questioned me about my pictures,” Dr. Kathleen Lovie, who graduated in 1985 and practices medicine in Alabama, told the newspaper.
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She said she remembered the yearbook being student-run.
At a Saturday news conference, Northam resisted calls to resign, saying he did not appear in the 1984 yearbook photo, contradicting his earlier remarks where he apologized for the picture.
“When I was confronted with the image, I was appalled that it appeared on my page, but I believed then and I believe now that I am not either of the people in that photograph,” he said at a news conference at the governor’s mansion.
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Surgery Chairman Dr. L.D. Britt, who is black and was first hired at the school in 1986, said it was unfortunate that EVMS has been highlighted this way, the paper reported.
“At the end of the day, somebody should have provided some oversight for that [photo] to have not been published,” he said.