RICHMOND, Va. — Some black clergy and community leaders say they forgive Gov. Ralph Northam for wearing blackface three decades ago and want to give him a second chance.
Eight leaders held a news conference on the steps of the state Capitol on Monday. Northam has resisted widespread calls for his resignation after a racist photograph from his 1984 medical school yearbook surfaced on Feb. 1.
Former Richmond City Councilman Henry "Chuck" Richardson said Northam is a "good and decent man" who has stood with African-Americans in the past.
For example, Richardson cited Northam's call to remove Confederate statues from Richmond's Monument Avenue.
Bernice Travers is president of a group that works to empower African-American voters. She said she's asked the governor to meet with leaders to talk about how to move forward.
John Boyd, President of the National Black Farmers' Association met with Northam after he admitted to wearing blackface.
"He has a good heart and I looked in the governor's eyes and believe that he was sincerely sorry," said Boyd.
The chairman of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, meanwhile, is signaling a willingness to work with Northam on issues important to African-Americans.
Del. Lamont Bagby said Monday that he plans to meet with the Democratic governor at a future date to lay out priorities important to black lawmakers, particularly on education and housing.
The black caucus has not withdrawn its calls for Northam to resign after the revelation of a racist photo in his medical school yearbook.
"I invite those elected officials today to read the words on my lip to look in your closet. I guarantee you there's a dirty garment hanging up in someone's closet," said Boyd. "But guess what people, I forgive those persons too."
Northam has said he won't step down but wants to spend his remaining three years in office combatting entrenched racial inequalities.
Bagby said it's too soon to say whether the black caucus will ever soften its stance that Northam should resign.
13News Now contributed to this report.