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Go. The first lady criticized for her tour of houses "without distinction of race": NPR



The first lady of Virginia, Pam Northam, is criticized after asking the Senate pages to imagine being a slave-cotton picker during a visit to the executive mansion.

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The first lady of Virginia, Pam Northam, is criticized after asking the Senate pages to imagine being a slave-cotton picker during a visit to the executive mansion.

Alex Edelman / Getty Images

Virginia's first lady, Pam Northam, apologized for aggravating recent racial scandals by her husband, the governor.

During a tour of the Executive Manoir organized by the Northam on February 21 for the 2019 Senate page class, Pam Northam allegedly distributed raw cotton to two of the three black students present and asked them to imagine being a slave cotton picker.

In one declarationPam Northam said she did the same educational tour for months and "used a variety of artifacts and crops to illustrate a painful period in the history of Virginia."

"I regret to have annoyed anyone," she wrote. "I'm always committed to chronicling the important history of historical cooking and will continue to engage historians and experts on the best way to do it in the future."

The governor's office told the Washington Post that Pam Northam was not targeting the black children present, but was handing the cotton to his neighbor so that he could feel his raw texture and imagine how difficult it was to handle it. all day.

Republican Senator William M. Stanley Jr. of Franklin County also declared to the To post that her daughter, present at the exchange, told her that Pam Northam had distributed the cotton to everyone.

"Can you imagine how much these children felt offended and how helpless they were to defend their rights?", Wrote Monday Leah Dozier Walker, Virginia State employee, whose daughter was one of those offered by the first lady, a Email to Governor Ralph Northam's office. "Why would SOMEONE ask children to imagine something like this, not to mention African American children?"

Walker, who oversees the Department of Education's Equity and Community Engagement Bureau, said she was "outraged" after her daughter, Alexandra Walker, told him talked about the incident in a cottage that had been used as a kitchen.

"The governor and Mrs. Northam have asked the people of the Commonwealth to forgive their past actions unfeeling race," said Leah Dozier Walker. "But Ms. Northam's actions, just last week, do not lead me to believe that this governor's office took seriously the wrongs and wrongs they caused to African Americans in Virginia or that" They deserve our forgiveness. "

Walker's daughter wrote a letter to Pam Northam, included in her mother's e-mail to lawmakers, describing her actions as "unacceptable, especially considering recent events" involving Governor Ralph Northam.

Governor Northam has been under surveillance since a racist image from the page of his medical school directory surfaced in early February. Since then, Governor Northam has resisted calls for resignation and tried to redeem himself in the eyes of his constituents. It is however the first time that the racial scandal in Virginia extends to the first lady.

In her response to criticism regarding the incident, Pam Northam defended her actions as part of an "educational tour … to illustrate a painful period in the history of Virginia ".

Here is Pam Northam's full statement:

"As a first lady, I have worked over the past year to begin telling the full story of the Executive Mansion, which is focused primarily on Virginia governors. The historic kitchen should be part of the tours of the Executive Mansion does a disservice to the Virginians by omitting the stories of the slaves who lived and worked there – that's why I engaged in an effort to share in a thoughtful and honest way this important story since my arrival in Richmond.

Over the last few months, I have organized the same educational circuit for visitors to the Executive Mansion and used a variety of artifacts and crops to illustrate a painful period in Virginia's history. I regret to have upset somebody.

I am always committed to chronicling the important history of historical cooking and will continue to engage historians and experts on the best way to do so in the future. "

Hafsa Quraishi is an intern at the national office. Sarah McCammon contributed to this report.


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