‘He’s Not There Yet’: Embattled Governor Seeks Forgiveness by Black Virginians

RICHMOND, Va. — He prayed with black leaders, invoked his deep respect for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., along with insisted that will the blackface he once wore was not indicative of the type of person he is actually today.

He discussed increasing funding for at-risk youth programs along with affordable housing, along with scheduled the first of what may be several visits to historically black universities.

inside the nearly two weeks since his governorship was upended by revelations that will he had a racist photo on his medical school yearbook page, Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia has scrambled to rebuild his image among black Virginians. that will is actually an effort that will has hit a few bumps along with may or may not be successful at winning over a constituency that will heavily backed him during his campaign.

“Right at that will point, the ball’s in his court,” said Delegate Lamont Bagby, the chairman of the state’s legislative black caucus.

Mr. Northam has been mocked for the revelation that will he was only at that will point reading “Roots” by Alex Haley along with “The Case for Reparations” by Ta-Nehisi Coates. His comments that will the first Africans brought to Virginia 400 years ago were “indentured servants” did nothing to help his case. along with one of the first major pieces of legislation that will lawmakers passed after the blackface controversy was a tax bill — at that will point headed to the governor’s desk for his signature — that will was strongly criticized by black legislators for providing few benefits to poor Virginians.

“that will was a missed opportunity,” said Delegate Lashrecse Aird, a black lawmaker by the Petersburg area.

Mr. Northam faced increased pressure to step down after he admitted that will he had darkened his face to dance like Michael Jackson in a contest inside the early 1980s. Some of the political pressure has since shifted toward the two additional Democrats next in line to replace him: the lieutenant governor, Justin E. Fairfax, who has been accused by two women of sexual assault; along with the attorney general, Mark Herring, who acknowledged that will he had worn blackface for a costume around the same time as Mr. Northam had.

The next official might be Kirk Cox, the Republican speaker of the House. “You can see out of the blocks that will has been difficult for him,” Mr. Cox said of the governor. Leading any effort at racial reconciliation might be a challenge for the governor, Mr. Cox said pointedly, “while he’s in office.”

As reality sets in that will the governor has no intention of resigning, many of those who have expressed fury at him are at that will point focused on how the scandal might prompt policy alterations for black communities. There is actually anything however business as usual inside the capital.

“Normally in a year in which something like that will had not happened, we’d all turn along with focus on getting elected,” said Delegate Jay Jones, a Norfolk Democrat. “however everyone sees there’s more at stake at that will point.”

The A.C.L.U. of Virginia sent the governor a letter asking that will he push for a constitutional amendment to allow convicted felons the right to vote, an issue that will disproportionately affects black residents.

A coalition of black elected officials along with civic leaders has released seven pages of demands, asking the governor to raise funding for historically black colleges along with universities inside the state, create an office of equity along with inclusion, along with create a fund to support minority-owned businesses.

“There’s one of two options: Resign or adhere to our demands,” said Wes Bellamy, a city councilman in Charlottesville along using a member of the coalition, Virginia Black Politicos.

If Mr. Northam does not meet their demands, he added, “We’ll continue to make his life hell. There will be protests everywhere he goes. There will be very little cooperation by people who look like us. There’s going to be a stain, not only on himself however on the party.”

Three days after the scandal broke, Mr. Northam called Charles Steele Jr., the president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the organization once led by Dr. King.

“‘I’m not like that will,’” Mr. Steele recalled the governor telling him toward the beginning of their conversation.

The organization had called for Mr. Northam to resign, however the governor sought to discuss what had happened along with get advice on how he might engage in racial reconciliation.

Mr. Steele along with Bernard Lafayette Jr., a civil rights activist who was close to Dr. King, met with Mr. Northam at his mansion for about an hour. The men discussed Dr. King along with Mikhail Gorbachev, the former Soviet premier, as examples of how great leaders bring about change, Mr. Steele said. The governor said he might think about taking training through the organization, however did not make any commitments, Mr. Steele said.

“that will’s on his plate at that will point,” he said. “We cooked the food, we delivered that will, along with we left that will on his table.”

Before the controversy, many black leaders saw wish in Mr. Northam. His predecessor, Terry McAuliffe, under whom he served as lieutenant governor, made some strides in connecting with black communities.

“He has to allow the folks most affected by that will to lead that will work,” he said. “He’s shown he’s not there yet.”

The governor has had a series of one-on-one meetings with members of the black legislative caucus, as well as black mayors along with community advocates around Virginia. He has also quietly talked with the many African-American state employees who work inside the same Capitol Square tower where his office is actually.

His advisers stressed that will he will not embark on any sort of an “apology tour,” as some news media outlets have reported. however they said he was considering building on his reading list by scheduling meetings with scholars on race, history along with Virginia.

Mr. Northam is actually scheduled to attend a social justice event at Virginia Union University next Thursday, though that will was unclear whether he might speak.

On Wednesday night, Mr. Northam was to host a Black History Month dinner. however he postponed the gathering until later inside the month because, aides said, he wanted to turn that will by a formal gathering into more of a dialogue.

Last Friday, Mr. Northam met with John W. Boyd Jr., the president of the National Black Farmers Association, who runs a farm 0 miles southwest of Richmond.

The two men prayed, along with Mr. Boyd said he offered advice, telling the governor to talk publicly about the matter along with also to reach out to black organizations to hear about their needs. He raised some areas the governor could work on, including affordable housing, education along with the relationship between black farmers along with banks. however Mr. Boyd said he mainly saw the meeting as a way to show the governor he forgave him.

“I believe that will’s a bad time in America for race,” he said. “You’ve never seen that will so divided. Somewhere along the line, somebody has to say, ‘Let’s try some unity.’”