Eastern Virginia Medical School is set to release the findings on Wednesday of a three-month investigation into the origins of a racist photo that appeared on the personal page of Gov. Ralph Northam in the 1984 school yearbook.
The school launched the independent investigation after the photo became public on Feb. 1. It showed one person in blackface and another in Ku Klux Klan garb at an apparent costume party.
Northam (D), a pediatric neurologist, initially apologized for appearing in the photo. The next day, he denied he was in the photo but could not explain how it ended up on his personal page. He said he had never purchased the yearbook and saw it for the first time when it was published by a conservative news site.
However, Northam did admit to wearing blackface to imitate Michael Jackson for a 1984 dance contest. That disclosure, along with the photo, shook up politics in the capital and drew national attention, with most Democrats calling on Northam to resign — something he has refused to do.
Days later, Attorney General Mark Herring (D) admitted that he also had worn blackface, at a college party when he was 19. And within the same week, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D) faced allegations from two women who said he sexually assaulted them in the early 2000s.
Amid the turmoil, the medical school hired the McGuireWoods law firm to review the publication of the photo on Northam’s yearbook page and any other yearbooks with offensive material, as well as the school’s culture pertaining to race. The school banned yearbooks in 2014.
The probe was headed by Richard Cullen, a senior partner at McGuireWoods and a former Virginia attorney general, as well as a former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.