RICHMOND, Va. (AP/WRIC) — The Rev. Al Sharpton has called on Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring to resign over their admission that they wore blackface in the 1980s.
In a fiery speech delivered Thursday at Virginia Union University, Sharpton said of Northam: “I’m not going to be your minstrel!”
Sharpton spoke to a crowd of about 300 students, faculty, clergy and political leaders at the historically black college.
“Mr. Governor, I flew out of New York to tell you your political days are over,” Sharpton said during his speech.
Northam admitted to wearing blackface at a dance party in 1984. On Wednesday, Herring acknowledged that he too had worn blackface to look like a rapper during a college party in 1980. Sharpton noted that blackface has always been demeaning to African-Americans, “mocking us, making us minstrels!”
“Blackface represents a deeper problem where people felt they could dehumanize and humiliate people based on their inferiority,” Sharpton said. “When we react to blackface, we’re not reacting to an act — we’re reacting to what the act represents.”
Members of the crowd shouted in agreement and jumped to their feet several times during Sharpton’s speech.