Blackened Herring: Virginia's Democratic Attorney General Admits He Once Wore Blackface To a College Party

Brittany M. Hughes | February 6, 2019
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Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, who's currently second in line for Virginia governor, released a press release Wednesday admitting he once dressed in blackface at a party in college, echoing a similar incident that’s embroiled current Virginia Governor Ralph Northam.

"In 1980, 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 press release. “It sounds ridiculous even now writing it. But because of our ignorance and glib attitudes – and because we did not have an appreciation for the experiences and perspectives of others – we dressed up and put on wigs and brown makeup.”

"This was a onetime occurrence and I accept full responsibility for my conduct. 

That conduct clearly shows that, as a young man, I had a callous and inexcusable lack of awareness and insensitivity to the pain my behavior could inflict on others. It was really a minimization of both people of color, and a minimization of a horrific history I knew well even then."

Herring has also reportedly called an emergency meeting with black leaders, according to the Washington Post.

In the press release, Herring all but admitted he's disclosing his past indiscretions in an effort to get ahead of what's sure to be a vicious news cycle, saying that the "shame of that moment has haunted me for decades and though my disclosure of it now pains me immensely, what I am feeling in no way compares to the betrayal, the shock, and the deep pain that Virginians of color may be feeling."

"That I have contributed to the pain Virginians have felt this week is the greatest shame I have ever felt," Herring added.

The attorney general also hinted that his time as Virginia's No. 3 official may come to a close as a result of this admission.

"In the days ahead, honest conversations and discussions will make it clear whether I can or should continue to serve as attorney general, but no matter where we go from here, I will say that from the bottom of my heart, I am deeply, deeply sorry for the pain that I cause with this revelation.”

The news comes less than a week after an old college photo of Northam surfaced showing the governor dressed in blackface and standing next to a guy dressed in a KKK costume at a college party back in the mid-‘80s. Shortly afterward, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax – the next in line for the governorship, should Northam resign – came under fire for allegations of sexual assault based on accusations from a woman in California.