‘Really?’: Some skeptical after ‘inconclusive’ report on Northam yearbook photo

Report: Blackface photo "inconclusive"

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - After a months-long investigation, we still don't know if it was Governor Ralph Northam in the racist yearbook photo.

Eastern Virginia Medical School announced Wednesday that its investigative team could not ‘conclusively’ determine whether it was Ralph Northam in either of the offensive costumes, one man in blackface and another in full KKK garb.

The investigation involved contacting more than 80 people, including former classmates of the governor. A 55-page report stated there was no conclusion on whether it was Northam posing for the now-infamous picture.

“I think the whole press conference was just the school trying to cover themselves,” said voter Cierra Parks.

Governor Northam maintains it wasn't him in the picture, after initially taking responsibility for the photo and then the next day saying it wasn't him.

Republicans released a statement Wednesday, still calling for Northam's resignation.

Executive Director of Race Capitol Chelsea Higgs Wise says society can’t move forward until it truly acknowledges the impact of racism embedded in our history.

"We’re still not able to really acknowledge the harmful past and connect it to the currency and complexities that are happening today,” said Higgs Wise. “This very performative investigation soiling on the picture, rather than telling us who was ‘coonman’ in 1984 and how do we know that he’s any different than our governor today?”

Others believed that Northam is a compassionate and caring man who should be forgiven.

“I totally believe that the blackface is wrong, totally,” said Beth Tolley, another voter who says she believes Northam has been doing a good job since the scandal. “But I believe we should be focusing on what’s happening today. And everybody, every one of us makes mistakes.”

Northam vowed to concentrate the rest of his time in office on racial inequity. During the legislative session, Northam passed bills to help reduce eviction rates, eliminate the suspension of driver’s licenses over unpaid court fines and directed an additional $4 million to affordable housing.

“He’s tried to be an ally in the way that old southern white dudes are,” said Thandi Woodard. “So, if he continues in that direction, I’m sure he’ll be fine until he’s pushed out of office for having this scandal behind him.”

At this point, many voters are just looking to the future.

“I know… the conversations I’m having are about new leadership, specifically in the Democratic party, and what that looks like for the party of the people,” said Higgs Wise. “Having new leadership that looks and sounds like us at the top, instead of people who have been privileged enough to learn about the people, decades later in life.”

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