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Virginia's first lady under fire after distributing cotton to visiting students

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam's wife is at the center of another potentially embarrassing moment for the Democratic leadership of the state, after an African-American law page claimed she had given him a ball of cotton with another black page. to be a slave person and have to choose that all day? "

In a letter to Pam Northam dated Monday and obtained by WAVY-TV, the eighth unidentified grader said that the "first lady's comments and the way you behaved … was beyond the offending, especially given the recent events with the governor.

"From the moment we entered the [Executive] mansion … I have not received a welcoming atmosphere, "said the student, who described the experience as" very testy ".

In an e-mailed statement, Northam spokeswoman, Ofirah Yheskel, denied that the first lady had distinguished black students by guiding them in a tour of the mansion and an adjacent building that had once served as a cooked.

"She excluded nobody, she invited all pages to touch agricultural products (such as dried tobacco, products, cotton) and artifacts exhibited in the historic kitchen as part of a educational tour, "said Yhsekel.

In a separate statement, Pam Northam said, "Historical cooking should be a hallmark of the Executive Mansion's tours, and I think that rendering the Virginians a disservice to omit the stories of the slaves who have there lived and worked – that's why I've been engaged in an effort to reflectfully and honestly share this important story since my arrival in Richmond.

"In recent months, I have organized the same educational tour for visitors to the Executive Mansion and used a variety of artifacts and agricultural crops to illustrate a period of time. painful in the history of Virginia.I regret not having angry someone. "

Ralph Northam has challenged calls for resignations from the state and the National Democratic Party since a racist photo on his 1984 Medical Directory page was presented on Feb. 1. Northam first apologized for his presence in the photo, showing a man with a black face and another with a picture. sharp coat and hood of a member of the Ku Klux Klan. The next day, he stated that he no longer believed to be in the photo, although he admitted to having worn Blackface the same year to look like Michael Jackson in a dance contest.


Northam has largely remained invisible, only showing himself in public at the funeral of a soldier. Meanwhile, the lieutenant governor, Justin Fairfax, was charged with sexual assault by two women and Attorney General Mark Herring admitted to carrying a black head to the university.

Last week, Northam canceled his intention to attend a civil rights commemoration event at the University of Virginia Union, historically black, after students asked him not to not come, claiming that his presence could overshadow the event.


According to the Washington Post, the governor's residence in Virginia was built in 1813 with forced labor. It is the oldest functioning governor's residence of the United States.

The Post reported Wednesday that the girl's mother, Leah Dozier Walker, director of equity and advocacy at the Virginia Department of Education, had written in a letter to the legislature and the office of the Governor that Ms. Northam's actions "do not lead me to believe that the governor's office took seriously the wrong and wrongs they caused to African Americans in Virginia or that they deserve our forgiveness."

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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