Virginia AG acknowledges wearing blackface, wig in 1980

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, shown in an undated photo from his campaign website, said he wore blackface to party while he was an undergraduate at University of Virginia.(

WASHINGTON — Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring on Wednesday acknowledged wearing brown make-up and a wig while imitating a black rap artist in 1980.

It is a revelation that comes in the wake of a similar blackface scandal surrounding Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam and a sexual assault allegation against the state’s lieutenant governor.

“When I was a 19 year-old undergraduate in college, some friends suggested we attend a party dressed like rappers we listened to at the time, like Kurtis Blow, and perform a song,” Herring said in a statement. “This was a one time occurrence and I accept full responsibility for my actions.”

The attorney general promised “honest conversation and discussions” to determine if he will remain in his position.

He also offered an apology.

Herring’s national profile has grown in recent days when it appeared possible that both Northam and Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax  could step down, leaving the attorney general as the next in the line of succession.

If all three depart, the speaker of Virginia’s House of Delegates, Kirk Cox, would assume the governorship.

As a Republican, Cox’s ascension would represent a major power shift in the state.

Democrats nearly took control of the House in December 2017, but a delegate race that ended in a virtual tie was ultimately determined by a coin toss. The Republican candidate, David Yancey, won.

Last Friday, a racist photograph from Northam’s 1984 medical school yearbook emerged.

The photo, which appeared on his page, depicted two men — one in blackface and the other dressed as a Klansman.

Northam initially apologized for the photo and said in both a written and on-camera statement that he was in it.

On Saturday, however, he changed his story, saying that he was not either of the men.

While addressing the media, he recalled an instance in which he wore shoe polish on his face while impersonating pop star Michael Jackson in 1984, opening up a fresh controversy.

He has faced numerous calls to resign from Democrats at the state and national level.

On Monday, assault allegations against Fairfax were made public. Scripps’ College professor Vanessa Tyson said in a social media post that Fairfax sexually assaulted her during the 2004 Democratic national convention.

Fairfax denied her account, noting that the Washington Post and local media outlets were unable to corroborate her story.

Tyson has since hired the same legal team that represented Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who came forward with assault allegations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearings.

In a new statement Wednesday, Fairfax said that he had a consensual relationship with Tyson and had no indication that there was concern until shortly before he was inaugurated in 2018.

Like Northam, Fairfax also has said that he does not intend to resign.

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