Attorney General Mark Herring (D-VA) outed himself in a Wednesday morning statement by revealing that he dressed up in blackface when he was an “undergraduate in college.”
“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. 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,” Herring said in a statement.
Herring has freely added himself to a growing list of embattled Democrats in the state. Gov. Ralph Northam (D-VA) is trying to save his political career after a now-viral yearbook photo was leaked of him wearing blackface next to a person in a KKK robe. Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D-VA) is fending off accusations that he forced a woman to perform oral sex on him at the 2004 Democratic National Convention.
“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,” Herring said, calling his actions a “minimization of both people of color” and a “horrific history.”
Please see my statement below. pic.twitter.com/FBDcgxHOq9
— Mark Herring (@MarkHerringVA) February 6, 2019
He went on to state that his actions from “nearly 40 years” ago have “haunted” him 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,” he said. “Where they have deserved to feel heard, respected, understood, and honestly represented, I fear my actions have contributed to them being forced to revisit and feel a historical pain that has never been allowed to become history.”
Herring concluded his statement by touting his record in Virginia politics of addressing “racial inequities and systemic racism.”
“That I have contributed to the pain Virginians have felt this week is the greatest shame I have ever felt,” he said. “Forgiveness in instances like these is a complicated process, one that necessarily cannot and should not be decided by anyone but those directly affected by the transgressor, should forgiveness be possible or appropriate at all. 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.”
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Mark Herring” by Mark Herring. Background Photo “Virginia Capitol” by Skip Plitt – C’ville Photography. CC BY-SA 3.0.