Virginia Governor Northam Backs Out of Event at Historically Black College After Outcry


Virginia Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam was asked to cancel an appearance at a historically black college as part of his “reconciliation tour” after the university’s student government asked him to stay away in a Monday letter.

Northam was set to appear at an event, “Faith, Identity and Social Justice” at Virginia Union University on Thursday, where the Richmond 34 would be commemorated. The Richmond 34 was a group of VUU students who were arrested for protesting segregated lunch counters at a department store in 1960.

“It is our understanding you are seeking to gain atonement from your past actions while simultaneously affirming your constituents that you hold true to your beliefs in leading Virginia forward,” a letter from VUU Student Government Association President Jamon Phenix said.

The letter added that the student body was in support of having an honest conversation surrounding race.

However, they felt that the governor’s presence would take away from the Richmond 34, especially given recent controversy over a picture featuring a person in blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan hood and robe appearing under Northam’s name in his 1984 medical yearbook.

Was it Rigged? You'll Never Believe Who Beat Keanu Reeves and Tom Cruise For 2023's 'Best Action Star'

Northam got further engulfed in a media storm after admitting at a press conference that he darkened his face with shoe polish for a Michael Jackson costume.

Phenix wrote that they would like to reschedule Northam’s visit for a date in the Spring.

Northam responded Wednesday, saying he will “abide by the students’ wishes.”

Do you think the school was right to ask Northam to cancel?

VUU students were skeptical about Northam’s scheduled appearance days before Phenix’s letter was sent.

“Personally, I’ll hear what he has to say… but I don’t really care for it, honestly,” VUU senior Rasaan Parker said, NBC 12 reported.

“What he did… it wasn’t right,” VUU student Khari Johnson said.

One Richmond 34 member, however, objected to Phenix’s letter, the Washington Post reported.

Disturbing Find Made on Voters Rolls as Hundreds of Non-Citizens Removed - This Is Who Reportedly Put Them There

“I represent many who extend this invitation to you to come and witness and celebrate this 59th anniversary with us,” Elizabeth Johnson Rice wrote in a separate letter to Northam, according to WaPo. “We also want your presence to be a learning tool for atonement and the need for forgiveness for all of us.”

Rice added that she believed in second chances, though Phenix said VUU students were “upset about his presence here,” WaPo reported.

The Richmond 34 commemoration will feature the city’s mayor Dwight Jones, according to NBC 12.

“I think he has lost the confidence of the people and cannot govern at this point, and the only way for that to happen is for the office to be vacated,” Jones said, NBC 12 reported.

It is unclear how many schools Northam would visit on the tour.

Several prominent Democrats like Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand called on Northam to resign following the controversial picture resurfacing.

Northam’s office did not immediately respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact

A version of this article appeared on The Daily Caller News Foundation website.

Truth and Accuracy

Submit a Correction →

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

, , , , , , , , , ,
Founded by Tucker Carlson, a 25-year veteran of print and broadcast media, and Neil Patel, former chief policy adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney, The Daily Caller News Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit providing original investigative reporting from a team of professional reporters that operates for the public benefit. Photo credit: @DailyCaller on Twitter