RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia's embattled governor says he wants to spend the remaining three years of his term pursuing racial "equity."

Gov. Ralph Northam told The Washington Post on Saturday that there is a higher reason for the "horrific" reckoning over a racist photograph that appeared in his medical school yearbook.

The 59-year-old Democrat gave his first interview to the newspaper since the photograph surfaced. The image shows a man in blackface beside someone in a Ku Klux Klan robe.

Gov. Northam staying put despite calls to resign

Northam denies being in the photo. He has admitted to wearing blackface at a 1984 dance party.

Northam has ignored widespread calls to resign. He said his experience puts him in a good position to explore the issue of "white privilege" and to pursue an agenda of racial reconciliation.