RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The first person to take the stage this morning in Chilhowie for the funeral of fallen state trooper Lucas Dowell was Gov. Ralph Northam.
This was Northam’s first public appearance since last Saturday’s news conference, in which he denied being in the racist yearbook photo.
He did not speak during the procession.
The Washington Post published an article on the same day, in which the governor finally broke his silence on the turmoil in the state capitol.
“A lot of individuals across Virginia have been hurt," he told the paper. “We still have a lot of work to do. There are still some very deep wounds in Virginia, and especially in the area of equity.”
He said he is working with his cabinet to begin addressing the issues of inequality – specifically on topics like education and healthcare.
Northam also stated he has been meeting with black legislators and community leaders.
He spoke about second chances, and how a white person may get redemption in most cases, where an African-American may not.
“That really helped put things in perspective for me to better understand why someone of white privilege has the opportunities that they have when an African-American... doesn’t," the governor said.
Northam said he wanted to refocus his efforts as the state’s top legislator by first mandating sensitivity among his cabinet, and extend those talks with schools.
He says he is also discussing affordable housing and entrepreneurial opportunities for minority-owned businesses with his commerce secretary.
In all, the governor said he wants to fill the void that lead to his lack of racial understanding that his upbringing did not provide, stating, “I want to heal that pain, and I want to make sure that all Virginians have equal opportunity... and I think I’m the person that can do that for Virginia.”
The governor reiterated that he does not intend to resign, and that he has a responsibility to the people that voted for him.
He adds that he is planning a reconciliation tour around the state where he can talk with people about the issues of race.