Regarding the Feb. 10 front-page article “Northam vows a focus on race’:
I believe Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) when he says he is not in the photograph on his yearbook page. I was in his class at Eastern Virginia Medical School and knew him fairly well. The Ralph Northam I knew in medical school was gentle, honorable, honest, moral and ethical.
I understand that it would be hard to believe he could at first own the problem, then later realize that it was not a photo of him. At first, his integrity dictated that he own his actions; however, after seeing his yearbook page for the first time, 35 years after the fact, he realized there had been a mistake on his page.
The last year of medical school was an intense, busy time. Taking care of patients in the hospital and clinic, night call, written and oral examinations, studying for boards, the residency application process, traveling to interview for residency slots and to do out-of-town rotations for eight weeks at a time consumed us. One’s yearbook page was not important. I suspect most of my classmates did not review their yearbook entry. I have no memory of reviewing mine, and I have no idea what photos are on my own yearbook page.
The people of Virginia chose a good man to be their governor. I hope the people will trust their first instinct and not second-guess their choice.
Eric Bourhill, Callaway, Va.
The Post’s many articles devoted to the scandal over decades-past yearbook photos completely missed the point. The real scandal is that Virginia has been and continues to be a powerful and effective advocate for racism through the 360 Virginia Confederate memorials, including those on the state capital’s notorious Monument Avenue and others around the city, and the many streets and buildings named to honor Confederate heroes.
It is no surprise that even good, well-intentioned people such as Attorney General Mark R. Herring (D) and Gov. Ralph Northam (D) and hundreds of thousands of others were well instructed by the mythology these memorials represent. These monuments are all protected by state law against removal.
The flip side of the Lost Cause mythology the monuments embody is that black people were irresponsible simpletons depicted by blackface characters. It is no surprise that school yearbooks echo the themes of these state-protected monuments.
The real scandal is that our Republican-dominated legislature again defeated consideration of changes to the law protecting the state’s racist monuments, and did so with barely any notice, much less public furor. While old yearbooks with blackface images are buried quietly on dusty shelves, our state continues to ensure that our children will grow up instructed by these monuments to the Confederacy and the struggle to establish it permanently on our continent.
Richard Roesel, Alexandria