Gov. Ralph Northam Calls Slaves ‘Indentured Servants’ In Interview, Gets Corrected

Adjust Comment Print

Attorneys for a woman who has accused Virginia's embattled lieutenant governor of sexual assault say their client is "prepared to testify at impeachment proceedings and to cooperate with law enforcement in any investigation".

Virginia "needs someone who is strong, who has empathy, who has courage, and who has a moral compass", Northam told CBS.

A Virginia Democrat who had planned to file articles of impeachment against Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax on Monday now says he won't be going ahead with it after all; at least not yet.

GOVERNOR RALPH NORTHAM: I don't live in a vacuum.

GAYLE KING (CBS THIS MORNING/CBS THIS MORNING Co-Host/@GayleKing): I know this has been a very hard week for you in the state of Virginia.

CBS's Gayle King asked.

"When you're in a state of shock like I was, we don't always think as clearly as we should".

She said in a phone interview that Northam's "indentured servant" remark is "shocking in light of his current political difficulties". Scholars say they were enslaved.

"The legacy of slavery, racism and the Jim Crow era remains an albatross around the necks of African Americans", said a statement from the state assembly's powerful Black Caucus, which like the NAACP has urged Northam to stand down.

Enslaved Africans first arrived in Virginia in 1619.

Slaves had no such hope of eventual freedom, and by definition never got anything in return for their services.

A Washington Post-Schar School poll, however, showed Virginians deadlocked, with equal numbers for and against Northam's resignation - and support for him staying in office higher among African Americans than among whites.

Attorney General Mark Herring, Mr Northam's deputy, has acknowledged wearing "brown make-up" to a party when he was 19. He said the women's allegations are serious and Fairfax should resign if they are true. But he could not explain how the photo wound up there, or why he initially had taken responsibility for it.

Northam, who is starting to appear publicly again after spending almost a week in seclusion, addressed the scandals facing his fellow elected officials. If Northam were to step down, Fairfax would be next in line to become governor.

A group of black clergy and community leaders is asking for a moratorium on the widespread calls for Virginia's governor and attorney general to resign over their admissions they wore blackface in the 1980s.

Attorney Nancy Erika Smith released the statement Saturday night on behalf of Meredith Watson after Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax denied the allegation and called for the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other authorities to investigate.

Fairfax, 39, has said his encounter with a woman who accused him of forcing himself on her sexually in Boston in 2004 was entirely consensual.

"I really believe that things happen for a reason", he said.

Meanwhile, the lieutenant governor did not make any public appearances Saturday and released his statement late in the day, after Republican state House Speaker Kirk Cox and the Democratic Party of Virginia joined a chorus of other calls for Fairfax to resign. "There are still some very deep wounds in Virginia, and especially in the area of equity", he said. Calls for Fairfax to step aside have come from many people, including several potential Democratic presidential hopefuls. "I look back now and regret that I did not understand the harmful legacy of an action like that". But we need somebody who - who cannot only address the wrongs of the past, but take Virginia into the future.