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Statement regarding Governor Northam


Our statement on the deeply offensive photos in Governor Northam’s yearbook

February 2, 2019:

The Legal Aid Justice Center condemns white supremacy in all its forms. And it is not enough to condemn the actions of a single man in the Governor’s office. We must also ask ourselves how it is that a young man in the 80s would want his legacy among classmates to be gilded with racist imagery. And we must ask ourselves how it is that a yearbook editor approved the placement of racist images on the pages of its yearbook knowing and intending that those pages would forever memorialize the ethos of those who attended the school at that time. 

Honesty compels us to acknowledge that the deeply offensive photo in Governor Northam’s yearbook depicting a person in blackface and another in a Klan robe may not have come as a complete shock to many Black and brown people who know that racism’s deep roots often go unexamined as part of the fabric of American society. These decisions do not reflect just the poor judgment of one future governor or one yearbook editor. These actions reflect the fact that, as recently as three decades ago, not only did white society condone such racist behavior; it lauded and popularized that behavior. 

The Legal Aid Justice Center is committed to not only challenging all the ways our laws and institutions of power cause generational harm to communities of color, but also examining our own complicity in helping keep white supremacy alive. It is only by acknowledging and addressing the ways in which white supremacy has been consciously and unconsciously reinforced across all sectors and segments of our nation that we will realize our goal of “more justice, less poverty.”

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