Governor in blackface scandal names new diversity director

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – The Virginia governor embroiled in a blackface scandal earlier this year is appointing a new top aide whose job will be to make government more inclusive.

Gov. Ralph Northam announced Monday that he’s appointing Janice Underwood to a newly created senior position whose duties will include formulating a strategic plan to “address systemic inequities” in state government.

Underwood is the former director of diversity initiatives at Old Dominion University.

Northam faced intense pressure to resign after it became public knowledge that a photo of someone wearing blackface appears on his 1984 medical school yearbook page. When asked by a reporter if this this hire would have happened if not for the controversy, Northam said Virginia has a heightened awareness about equity issues.

The governor denied being in the picture but admitted to wearing blackface as a young man while portraying Michael Jackson at a dance party in the 1980s.