Northam cancels VMI appearance and one other

(Lexington, Va.)  — Gov. Ralph Northam won’t be speaking at Virginia Military Institute in Lexington next month.

Notham had been scheduled to deliver the commencement address at his Alma mater, where he served as president of the honor court during his senior year at VMI; however, the controversy over a blackface photo and a comment in a 1981 VMI yearbook continue to haunt the governor. The yearbook included a reference to the future governor as “Coonman,” a term used as a racial slur.

Northam previously spoke at VMI’s 2014 commencement when he was lieutenant governor.

Virginia’s governor has also pulled out of an event where he would have faced protesters for wearing blackface in the 1980s.

The Washington Post reported that Northam cited safety concerns for cancelling his appearance at a Sunday fundraiser for a Democratic state senator in northern Virginia.

The protesters were assembled in Burke by the Fairfax County NAACP and the state Republican Party. Northam had faced calls to step down in February after a racist photo surfaced from his 1984 medical school year book. It included a photo of a person in blackface standing next to someone wearing a Ku Klux Klan outfit.

Northam denies being in that photo. But he has admitted to wearing blackface while portraying Michael Jackson at a dance party in the 1980s.