A member of Virginia Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam’s medical school yearbook staff cast significant doubt on the governor’s claim that he is not pictured in a racist photo on his yearbook page.
CNN’s Sara Sidner said she spoke with Northam’s Eastern Virginia Medical School classmate, Dr. William Elwood, who worked on the yearbook staff in 1984, and he explained the process used to place the pictures on each student’s individual page.
According to Elwood, the photos were sent in a sealed envelope by each of the graduates, which were kept in a locked area.
“The yearbook staff then took the sealed envelope, opened it up, and they placed the pictures on the actual personal page of each of the physicians who were graduating,” Sidner recounted.
The reporter asked Elwood if it was possible a mistake could have been made, in which the staff mixed up the pictures, as Northam suggested must have happened when he spoke to reporters at a news conference on Saturday in Richmond.
“And (Elwood) said, anything is possible, but it is not probable,” Sidner said. “He said, either someone would have had to have done it maliciously or someone would have had to have done it mistakenly, but all of these pictures in this yearbook, they were in a locked area that only the staff could get in. And in his mind, it really doesn’t seem possible that that would have happened.”
CNN reports that Dr. William Elwood, who worked on the EVMS yearbook staff in 1984, says that it is highly unlikely that the KKK/blackface photos on Virginia Democrat Governor Ralph Northam’s page were mixed up. pic.twitter.com/1MiMvGEh8Q
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) February 5, 2019
In a separate interview with CBS affiliate WTKR, Elwood emphasized, “We were very careful. The envelopes came to us sealed.”
“The envelopes were only opened to do the layout and then put back. Then they were sent back to the student they belonged to. All of the yearbook stuff was under lock and key,” he added.
When the photo showing a man in blackface standing next to another in a KKK hood first surfaced on Friday afternoon, Northam apologized, saying, “Earlier today, a website published a photograph of me from my 1984 medical school yearbook in a costume that is clearly racist and offensive.”
He added, “This behavior is not in keeping with who I am today and the values I have fought for throughout my career in the military, in medicine and in public service.”
However, on Saturday the governor reversed course, pronouncing, “I believe now and then that I am not either of the people in this photo. This was not me in that picture. That was not Ralph Northam.”
He did admit to wearing blackface to portray Michael Jackson in a dance competition that same year, but argued it was not to mock the singer, but to imitate him.
So far Northam has resisted calls to resign, saying he wants a chance to prove he is not the man in the picture and to find out how it ended up on his page.
Northam’s EVMS roommate Dr. John O. “Rob” Marsh speculated that the whole thing was a prank gone bad.
“My theory (is) this was a horrible prank played on him,” Marsh told the Salisbury Daily Times. “But, I don’t know who would’ve done it or why and I cannot prove that. However, I think it would’ve been easy for someone to slip a picture like that into his envelope of pictures.”
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