Rev. Al Sharpton on Thursday called for Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring to resign after they both admitted to wearing blackface in the 1980s.
“If you sin, you must pay for the sin,” Sharpton said at the Virginia Union University’s weekly chapel service. “Blackface represents a deeper problem where people felt they could dehumanize and humiliate people based on their inferiority.”
“When we’re reacting to blackface, we’re not reacting to the act. We’re reacting to what the act represents,” he added, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Northam, a Democrat, so far has refused to bow to increasing pressure to resign over the controversy stemming from a photo showing one man dressed up in blackface and another in Ku Klux Klan garb. Northam denies he was in the photo, but did admit he wore blackface for a Michael Jackson costume in the 1980s.
On Wednesday, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, also a Democrat, admitted to wearing blackface at a college party in 1980.
Another top Democratic official facing controversy this week is Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax. Politics professor Vanessa Tyson alleges he forced her to engage in oral sex during the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston. Fairfax has denied the sexual assault allegation, arguing that the sexual encounter was consensual.
Sharpton did not call on Fairfax to resign, but did call for both Fairfax and his accuser to be heard.