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Northam and the one-year anniversary of ‘blackface’ scandal

ralph northamHate to be that guy, but it was a year ago Saturday that Gov. Ralph Northam found himself in the middle of his blackface controversy.

Gotta point that out as Northam, somehow rehabilitated, now presiding over a Democratic-majority General Assembly, which nobody would have predicted a year ago, is touting Virginia’s celebration of Black History Month.

The governor’s office issued a statement on behalf of Northam on the state’s commemoration.

“For too long, the stories we have told about Virginia’s history have diminished or ignored the contributions of African Americans,” Northam said in the statement. “Black History Month is just one way we honor these tremendous accomplishments and ensure more people have a full and accurate understanding of our past.

“As we work to better tell our true story, I encourage all Virginians to pause and recognize the depth of contributions Black Americans have made to the fabric of our Commonwealth and nation. Let’s not just do this today, tomorrow, or one month out of the year—but every day. Black history is American history.”

Those are all good things, and yes, admittedly, I feel like I’m kicking a guy when he’s still down a bit here.

Then again, blackface, right?

To his credit, whatever credit he’s owed, the governor is trying, be it real effort, or just trying to look good, given.

His proposed budget includes $2.5 million to support K-12 attendance at the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia, $7 million to support historic African American sites, and $2 million to provide students from across the Commonwealth the ability to visit the American Civil War Museum.

His office is calling it his “historic justice and equity agenda.” More details here.

Northam has also empaneled a Commission on African American History Education that is reviewing the Commonwealth’s K-12 history standards to ensure Virginia students are taught accurate and comprehensive version of Virginia’s history.

In addition, Northam has appointed a Virginia African American Advisory Board that will next meet on Friday, Feb. 7, at 9:30 a.m. in the Patrick Henry Building in Richmond, and that meeting is open to the public.

One other item: Northam’s Commission to Examine Racial Inequity in Virginia Law is working with legislators to remove racist and discriminatory language that remains on Virginia’s books

The Commission’s interim report on this can be found here.

So, again, credit for trying, and we can just hope that it’s authentic.

Story by Chris Graham

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