The Commonwealth of Virginia has a blackface problem. The Governor, Ralph Northam, and the Attorney General, Mark Herring, have been embroiled in scandal surrounding incidents in college of them allegedly dressing in blackface. Since two of the top elected officials in the state have this behavior in their past, is it fair to wonder if there are more politicians in the state with blackface costumes in their past?
Now, a group of activists wants to find out and they are going to pay students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to do the research.
Chelsea Higgs Wise, a political organizer from Richmond, has set up the GoFundMe and as of this writing, they have raised nearly $7K of their $10K goal.
What are they looking for? If you can believe it, it’s simply yearbook photos. As unbelievable as it sounds, it’s all they needed to pin this scandal on the governor, so how many other politicians have questionable or scandalous photos in their yearbook? It seems like it could certainly be more than just the governor. So the activist want to hire students to go through old yearbooks looking for photos. Are they going too far? The organizers say no and they have a number of reasons.
Wise and the organizers argue that this is necessary because: “Governor Ralph Northam’s 1984 medical yearbook page with photos submitted by students including a photo of a person in blackface and a klan costume was released to the media,” and “Attorney General Mark Herring has also put on black face in his past.”
It’s not limited to the politicians, they say. “Anti-fascist community members uncovered evidence of a Virginia Capitol Police officer having possible affiliations to a white supremacist organization.” And even the 4th ranking politician in Virginia, the state Senate Majority Leader, Tommy Norment, is facing scrutiny for a yearbook he edited that included students in blackface, as the GoFundMe page notes: “blackface photos from a fraternity party surfaced in the yearbook of the next person in line for succession, Speaker of the House Kirk Cox which, while they were not photos of Speaker Cox, made people see the issue of offensive photos in yearbooks is more prevalant [sic] than originally realized.”
What will they find? Are there any politicians in Virginia that don’t have a questionable past? Maybe this project will find out.