After Blackface Controversy, Virginia Governor Pulls Out of Commencement Speech

April 16, 2019 AT 7:21 AM

By Laura Vozzella

Gov. Ralph Northam (D) has bowed out of plans to serve as commencement speaker at Virginia Military Institute, his alma mater, and will not participate in any other graduation ceremonies due to lingering controversy over his blackface scandal.

The governor’s spokeswoman confirmed that the state’s top politician will steer clear of graduation ceremonies throughout the commonwealth this commencement season.

Her announcement Monday, first reported by the Roanoke Times, came one day after Northam abruptly backed out of an appearance at a Burke fundraiser for state Sen. David W. Marsden (D-Fairfax).

Northam canceled on Marsden because the event had drawn protesters, including the Fairfax chapter of the NAACP as well as antiabortion activists. Northam’s spokeswoman said the governor opted to skip it out of “safety concerns.”

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