Ralph Northam: Governor's wife stops him doing 'inappropriate' moonwalk at press conference about blackface incident

Democrat refuses to quit despite resignation demands by party colleagues

Tom Embury-Dennis
Monday 04 February 2019 15:14
Ralph Northam told not to moonwalk by wife Pamela Northam following blackface scandal

Ralph Northam’s wife was forced to stop the Virginia governor from doing an “inappropriate” moonwalk during a press conference during which he admitted wearing blackface while dressed as Michael Jackson.

The Democratic governor, under severe pressure from party colleagues to resign, told journalists on Saturday that he blacked up as the Thriller singer during a “dance contest” in the 1980s.

The admission came during a press conference in which he apologised for, but said he did not feature in, a racist photo in his 1984 medical yearbook page showing one man in blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan robe.

"That same year, I did participate in a dance contest in San Antonio, in which I darkened my face as part of a Michael Jackson costume," Mr Northam said.

"I look back now and I regret that I did not understand the harmful legacy of an action like that. It is because my memory of that episode is so vivid, that I truly do not believe I am in the picture in my yearbook."

Later in the press conference, Mr Northam appeared to look around for space on stage after a reporter asked if he was still able to moonwalk, Jackson's signature dance.

His wife, Pam Northam, was heard saying, “Inappropriate circumstances”, before Mr Northam said: “My wife says inappropriate circumstances."

Despite reversing a previous admission he featured in the Ku Klux Klan photo, Democratic colleagues, including presidential candidates Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren, are demanding Mr Northam's resignation.

On Sunday, Donald Trump waded in, calling Mr Northam’s conduct “unforgivable”.

The image in the Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook was on a page featuring information about Mr Northam - a paediatric neurologist - and other photos of him.

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