NORFOLK, Va. — An Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook photo will once again be at the center of Virginia politics tomorrow.
“I’m very disappointed it has come to this, that we are still here two and a half months after this all came about, and we are no closer to resolving anything,” said civic activist Vivian Paige.
Paige is referring to the 1984 yearbook that had a picture of one person in blackface and another in a KKK outfit on Governor Ralph Northam’s page.
“My personal opinion is they aren’t going to be able to identify the people in the picture,” said Paige.
Paige said no matter what the Norfolk medical school says Wednesday, it won’t change the public opinion of Northam.
“He’s kind of laid very low over the last few months and has just raised his head up a little bit. This is going to bring it all back. It can’t be good for him,” said Paige.
Paige said even if it’s proven it’s not Northam in the photo, he still admitted to wearing blackface.
Portsmouth's NAACP expressed doubt about the investigation results before they were released. On Tuesday, the organization said in a statement:
PORTSMOUTH NAACP expresses caution regarding trusting EVMS/ McGuire Woods investigation results.
Tomorrow, EVMS will release their findings from the investigation conducted in response to Ralph Northam’s racist images in their yearbook. On February 5, the Portsmouth NAACP issued the following statement to EVMS concerning the investigation and outlined action items in order to ensure the community could have trust in the process and the result. This process should have been totally independent of Ralph Northam and EVMS either directly or indirectly.
Being that the investigation was completed by an entity paid for and selected by EVMS, an action that we condemned at the genesis of the investigation, we cannot have full confidence in the results, and in our opinion, the community cannot either. We had serious concerns about McGuire Woods conducting the investigation being that they have ties with EVMS and that EVMS paid for the firm to conduct the investigation. We reached out to EVMS for collaboration to appoint representatives to the investigation team to increase diversity and experience regarding racially offensive situations in addition to the structure of the investigation but to no avail. We requested a meeting to be setup directly with the President of EVMS, however, no concrete plans were formulated. Additionally, we have concerns with the former Attorney General Robert Cullen leading the investigation as a result of previous political involvement.
“How can you lead a diverse party and participate in something like that,” said Paige. “I still believe that he should have resigned.”
It’s also an important day for EVMS who is trying to recover from their own PR nightmare.
“What kind of culture creates a situation where someone feels comfortable enough with putting something like that on their page in 1985,” said Paige.
Paige expects the school to be very apologetic.
“'This is a process that changed,' and 'it’s going to get better,' blah, blah, blah. That’s where I kind of expect it to go,” said Paige.
Then there are the long-term political ramifications, not just in the governor’s office, but the entire Democratic party.
“The opportunity for the Democrats to pick up more seats has been diminished by this,” said Paige.