Eastern Virginia Medical School to investigate all past yearbooks

Eastern Virginia Medical School to investigate all past yearbooks
WTKR/Eastern Virginia Medical School via CNN
A yearbook page of now Virginia Democratic Governor Ralph Northam shows a photograph of two people, one in blackface and one in a KKK hood and robe. 

Eastern Virginia Medical School has promised an investigation into all past yearbooks in the wake of the controversy surrounding the state’s Gov. Ralph Northam.

A racist photograph, which was obtained by CNN, appears in the medical school’s 1984 yearbook and shows one person dressed in blackface and another in the KKK’s signature white hood and robes. Northam, on Friday, confirmed he was one of the people pictured and issued an apology, calling the costumes “clearly racist and offensive.” But on Saturday, he said he does not believe he is either person in the photograph.

Eastern Virginia Medical School President Richard V. Homan said in a statement Saturday he would call for an external investigation “to review all of our past yearbooks, determine the processes for publishing those yearbooks; discover what, if any, administrative oversight was exercised; examine our campus culture; and provide recommendations for future actions.”

Homan said the panel for the investigation will include “advocates for diversity and inclusion representative of our greater community, including African Americans and other people of color.”

“We commit to transparency and moving the investigation forward as quickly as possible,” he said.

Earlier Saturday, Homan released a statement condemning the racist photo and issuing an apology on behalf of the medical school.

“The picture is shockingly abhorrent and absolutely antithetical to the principles, morals and values we hold and espouse of our educational and research institution and our professions. Racism and discrimination in any form is not acceptable,” Homan’s statement read.

Homan added that while past events cannot be changed, they can serve as “reminders of the importance of our ongoing work toward diversity and inclusion.”

“We recognize the need to address and rectify any issues of racism and discrimination that arise, at any point — and will continue a long tradition of action to build a strong culture of diversity and inclusion,” Homan said.

Northam, a former pediatric neurosurgeon and Army doctor, won the governorship in 2017. Despite numerous calls for his resignation, Northam said he would try to win over those who want him out.

“I intend to continue doing the business of Virginia,” he said, adding that resigning would be the easier way out.