- Northam said in a statement: "I am deeply sorry for the decision I made to appear as I did in this photo and for the hurt that decision caused then and now."
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam apologized on Friday for appearing in a "clearly racist and offensive" costume in his 1984 medical school yearbook. The photo shows a person wearing blackface standing next to another person wearing a Ku Klux Klan robe.
Northam said in a statement: "I am deeply sorry for the decision I made to appear as I did in this photo and for the hurt that decision caused then and now."
However Northam did not say that he would be resigning his post as governor, and did not say whether or not he was the person in the Ku Klux Klan robe or the one in blackface depicted in the photo.
This image shows Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam's page in his 1984 Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook. The page shows a picture of a person in blackface and another wearing a Ku Klux Klan hood next to different pictures of the governor.
The page features his name, his undergraduate alma mater, and his interest in pediatrics. The page includes a montage of photos, including one of Northam in a jacket and tie, and another in which he's wearing a cowboy hat.
Northam graduated from Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Virginia.
The Republican Party of Virginia is calling on the governor to resign.
"What Ralph Northam did was unforgivable," the party said via its Twitter page.
"Given his statements on the right to life coupled with the most recent revelations, he has lost the moral authority to continue to govern and should resign immediately. "
Northam's office released a statement from the governor on Friday evening, apologizing for the image.
"This behavior is not in keeping with who I am today and the values I have fought for throughout my career in the military, in medicine, and in public service," Northam said in the statement. "I want to be clear, I understand how this decision shakes Virginians' faith in that commitment."
"I recognize that it will take time and serious effort to heal the damage this conduct has caused. I am ready to do that important work. The first step is to offer my sincerest apology and to state my absolute commitment to living up to the expectations Virginians set for me when they elected me to be their Governor," he said.
Northam also released a video message Friday evening, further apologizing for the video, and adding that he intends to fight to earn back the trust of Virginians.
My fellow Virginians, earlier today I released a statement apologizing for behavior in my past that falls far short of the standard you set for me when you elected me to be your governor. I believe you deserve to hear directly from me. pic.twitter.com/1rSw1oxfrX— Ralph Northam (@GovernorVA) February 2, 2019
"I accept responsibility for my past actions, and I am ready to do the hard work of regaining your trust," Northam said in the video, "I have spent the past year as your governor, fighting for a Virginia that works better for all people. I am committed to continuing that fight for the remainder of my term, and living up to the expectations you set for me when you elected me to serve."
Democratic presidential candidates including California Senator Kamala Harris and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro have called on Northam to step down.
Leaders are called to a higher standard, and the stain of racism should have no place in the halls of government. The Governor of Virginia should step aside so the public can heal and move forward together.— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) February 2, 2019
It doesn’t matter if he is a Republican or a Democrat. This behavior was racist and unconscionable. Governor Northam should resign.— Julián Castro (@JulianCastro) February 2, 2019
Northam was elected in 2017, defeating former Republican Party Chairman Ed Gillespie, in a year in which Democrats nearly retook the Virginia House of Delegates for the first time in decades.
Numerous high-profile Democrats, including former President Barack Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden, campaigned for Northam.
The head of the Virginia Republican Party called on Northam in a Friday statement to resign if the governor is, indeed, depicted in the picture.
"These pictures are wholly inappropriate. If Governor Northam appeared in blackface or dressed in a KKK robe, he should resign immediately."
"Racism has no place in Virginia,” said Virginia GOP Chairman Jack Wilson. "These pictures are wholly inappropriate. If Governor Northam appeared in blackface or dressed in a KKK robe, he should resign immediately."
Under the Virginia Constitution, if Northam resigns, he would be succeeded by his Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax, a 39-year-old African-American former lawyer who is considered a rising star in Virginia Democratic politics.