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Ralph Northam, beleaguered governor of Virginia, informs CBS This Morning that he will not resign after a blackface photo has appeared in his medical school yearbook. (February 11th)
AP

Pam Northam, the wife of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, is facing criticism for running a tour of the mansion in which she handed cotton to several African American students and asked them to meditate on slavery, according to reports.

Letters from the girl and her mother detail the alleged incident. They say that the eighth grade girl – who served as a page for the state senate – went to the governor's mansion with other pages on February 21st. The pages are high school students appointed by senators who often help to convey messages and prepare the chamber for Senate sessions.

During this visit, Northam would have given many pages of cotton to African Americans and asked them to imagine what it would be like to take cotton as a slave.

Leah Dozier Walker, the girl's mother, wrote in a letter that her daughter had been left "upset and deeply offended" by the incident. The Richmond Times-Dispatch released this letter and identified Walker as the director of the equity and community engagement office of the state's education department.

"I can not understand why the First Lady chooses the African-American pages for this – or – why she would ask such an insensitive question," reads Walker's letter.

The girl's letter – sent to Northam and published by WAVY-TV – indicates that the cotton was given to him, as well as to another African-American page. Northam also gave it to "other pages", says the letter.

It is said that Northam asked the pages: "Can you imagine being a slave and having to choose it all day?"

February 11th: Virginia Governor Ralph Northam criticized for referring to "first African contract servants" instead of slaves

February 9th: "A horrible week for Virginia": Governor Ralph Northam faces blackface scandal in first interview

Northam's office and another parent whose child was present during the tour challenged the claim that Northam would have chosen black students, the Washington Post reported. The first lady handed the cotton to a group of students, they say.

In a statement issued by several outlets, Northam said that she had worked to include slave stories during visits to the governor's residence.

"I have organized the same educational tour for visitors to the Executive Mansion over the last few months and used a variety of artifacts and agricultural crops in an effort to illustrate a painful period from the history of Virginia I regret not to have angry anyone, "the statement said. .

The controversy comes after Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has been called to resign from the top Democrats since the page of his 1984 yearbook from the Eastern Virginia Medical School published a few weeks ago. The page included a photo of a black-faced man standing next to a person dressed in a hood and a Ku Klux Klan dress.

More: Blackface, KKK Hoods and simulacres of lynchings: a review of 900 directories reveals blatant racism

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, left, with his wife Pam at his side, speaking at a press conference held at the Executive Mansion on Saturday, February 2, 2019. Northam is under fire. A racial photo appearing in his university directory. (Photo: Steve Earley / The Virginian Pilot via AP)

Walker adds that the latest incident brings new relevance to the previous scandal: "But the actions of Mrs. Northam, just last week, do not lead me to believe that the office of this governor took seriously the wrongs and injuries caused to African Americans. Virginia or that they deserve our forgiveness, "says the letter.

Walker's letter has been copied to several lawmakers to ensure that his daughter's experience is taken seriously, according to the complaint.

Contribute: William Cummings

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