RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The discovery last week of a racist photo on Gov. Ralph Northam’s 1984 medical school yearbook page has served as a glaring reminder that Virginia — a former bastion of slavery and white supremacy— continues to struggle with mindsets shaped by its turbulent racial history.
Even as Virginia has grown more socially liberal in recent decades, evidence that its racist tradition is not yet a thing of the past is everywhere.
Statues of Confederate leaders remain the defining feature of Richmond’s Monument Avenue and the state legislature still honors Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and "Stonewall" Jackson every year. "When Virginia voted for Barack Obama in 2008, there was talk that Virginia was now moving into a new era. In actuality, Virginia faked left and went right," said Gary Flowers, a Richmond native who is the former CEO of the Black Leadership Forum.