The Latest: Sharpton calls on Northam, Herring to resign

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The Latest on the racial and sexual assault allegations that have engulfed Virginia’s top three elected officials, all Democrats (all times local):

1:40 p.m.

The Rev. Al Sharpton has called on Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring to resign over their admission that they wore blackface in the 1980s.

In a fiery speech delivered Thursday at Virginia Union University, Sharpton said of Northam: “I’m not going to be your minstrel!”

Sharpton spoke to a crowd of about 300 students, faculty, clergy and political leaders at the historically black college.

Northam admitted to wearing blackface at a dance party in 1984. On Wednesday, Herring acknowledged that he too had worn blackface to look like a rapper during a college party in 1980. Sharpton noted that blackface has always been demeaning to African-Americans, “mocking us, making us minstrels!”

Members of the crowd shouted in agreement and jumped to their feet several times during Sharpton’s speech.


1:20 p.m.

A Republican who previously ran for statewide office against Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam says he believes the revelations against the Democrat are “divine retribution.”

Several Republicans have called for Northam to resign after the discovery last week of a racist photo on his 1984 medical school yearbook page.

E.W. Jackson lost the lieutenant governor’s race to Northam in 2013. He says Northam angered many voters by supporting a bill that would loosen some abortion restrictions. Jackson, who is black, says he believes the public revelation of the photo and the resulting fallout is “God sort of revealing what’s really going on behind the scenes.”

In a tweet Wednesday night, Jerry Falwell Jr. blamed the current crisis on voters in the state’s left-leaning Washington, D.C., suburbs who voted for Democrats. Falwell is a Christian conservative who leads Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.


8:30 a.m.

Democratic politicians are now waiting on the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus to respond to the latest developments threatening to bring down the state’s top three elected officials.

The caucus quickly condemned Gov. Ralph Northam and called on him to resign after the revelation that a photo of two men in blackface and KKK costumes was published on his 1984 yearbook page.

But the group has been silent so far since Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax was accused of sexually assaulting a woman 15 years ago, a charge he denies. The next official in line to replace a governor, Attorney General Mark Herring, also admitted that when he was a teenager, he once wore blackface to a party.

The black lawmakers said they were working on a statement.

(This item has been edited to correct that the yearbook photo appeared in 1984, not 1985)

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