"I appreciate the initial invitation from the VUU Administration, but I will respect the wishes of the students. I accept the invitation of the Student Government Association to engage in a future dialogue and honest discussions on issues of race, reconciliation and equity, "said Northam in a letter to his Account.
"I appreciate the opportunities to listen, learn and discuss how we can move Virginia forward," added Northam.
The governor 's decision not to attend the ceremony follows a letter from the student government asking him to postpone his visit and attend another event in the future to discuss race, reconciliation and other issues. equity.
The Virginia governor was caught in a controversy after a photo on an old page of her medical school yearbook showing her face, showing a black-faced person and another dressed in white hood and Ku Klux dresses Klan. Northam initially apologized and admitted that he was in the picture, but the next day he changed his position and said it was not him. Northam said he remembered having darkened his skin in a Michael Jackson dance competition in 1984.
The group honored at the event is the Richmond 34, a group of historically black university students who were arrested in 1960 after participating in a non-violent sit-in at the counter- lunch at Thalhimers department store in Richmond. After the students sat at the "White Only" counter and asked to be served, they were arrested and charged with trespassing.
Their case was eventually referred to the Supreme Court, where the students were found not guilty. The decision was a major victory for the civil rights movement in America and played a key role in the desegregation of Richmond.
Northam still plans to meet the Richmond 34, and he said in a letter to the student government president that he will be hosting the group at the Executive Mansion on Friday.
Despite calls for the resignation of the governor, Northam said he was not considering resigning. He told cabinet members that if he did, he would resign from his role as "racist for life," according to a source following the meeting, and said he would stay in power to clear his name and convince people that he was not in the picture. the image does not represent who it is.
Janet DiGiacomo from CNN contributed to this report.