Top Virginia politician also wore blackface

Virginia Attorney General Mark HerringImage copyright
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Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring has admitted to wearing “brown makeup” to a party, days after the state governor admitting wearing blackface.

The second-in-line to the governor’s seat said in a statement on Wednesday that he wore a costume to a party when he was 19 years old at university.

Democratic Governor Ralph Northam is facing calls to resign over a racist photo and admission of blackface usage.

The lieutenant governor is also under scrutiny for sex assault allegations.

The Democratic attorney general said that in 1980, he and his friends donned costumes after “some friends suggested we attend a party dressed like rappers we listened to at the time, like Kurtis Blow, and perform a song”.

“It sounds ridiculous even now writing it. But because of our ignorance and glib attitudes – and because we did not have an appreciation for the experiences and perspectives of others – we dressed up and put on wigs and brown makeup,” he said.

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The state’s top three Democratic are now all facing scandals

“That conduct clearly shows that, as a young man, I had a callous and inexcusable lack of awareness and insensitivity to the pain my behaviour could inflict on others.

Mr Northam, meanwhile, still denies he is either of two people – one in blackface, the other in Ku Klux Klan (KKK) robes – pictured in a 1984 medical yearbook photo that surfaced last week.

But in a news conference over the weekend, he admitted to wearing blackface in a separate incident that year while performing as Michael Jackson.

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Media captionGovernor Northam: I am not the person in that photo

Meanwhile, Lt Governor Justin Fairfax, who is next in line to succeed Mr Northam if he leaves office, has denied claims that he allegedly assaulted a woman during the 2004 Democratic political convention.

In Mr Fairfax’s latest statement on Wednesday, he called the allegations “surprising and hurtful” and insisted on his innocence.

“I have nothing to hide,” he added.

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The Democratic attorney general said he and his friends dressed like rappers they listened to at the time, including Kurtis Blow

On Saturday, Mr Herring joined a chorus of fellow Democrats calling on Mr Northam to resign, saying it was “no longer possible” for him to serve as governor.

In Mr Herring’s latest statement, he did not offer to step down, and wrote of his “efforts to empower communities of colour” and “to combat the rise in hate crimes and white supremacist violence that is plaguing our Commonwealth and our country”.

“In the days ahead, honest conversations and discussions will make it clear whether I can or should continue to serve as attorney general, but no matter where we go from here, I will say that from the bottom of my heart, I am deeply, deeply sorry for the pain that I cause with this revelation.”

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