Historians on The Books Ralph Northam Should Read To Better Understand RacismHistorians in the News
tags: racism, books, Ralph Northam
Virginia’s Democratic governor declared this weekend that he’s “not going anywhere.” Refusing to resign, the 59-year-old promised to pursue racial equality during the final three years of his term. After the revelation of a racist picture on his medical school yearbook page and his confession that he wore blackface during a moonwalking contest in 1984, Northam said he’s begun to finally grapple with the meaning of “white privilege.” He’s planninga “reconciliation tour” that will take him across the state and has ordered all his Cabinet secretaries to prepare policy proposals that would improve the plight of African Americans.
There are certainly models for redemption. John McCain’s career was nearly destroyed by the Keating Five scandal, for example, but the late senator from Arizona refashioned himself as a champion for strict campaign finance rules.
First, however, Northam says he wants to read up on race. He told The Washington Post that he has reviewed “The Case for Reparations,” a 2014 article in the Atlantic by Ta-Nehisi Coates, as well as a few chapters from “Roots,” by Alex Haley. “I have a lot more to learn,” Northam told my colleague Greg Schneider on Saturday. “The more I know, the more I can do.”
First lady Pam Northam, who has urged her husband to remain in office, is also tackling the subject. She’s reading “We Face the Dawn,” by Margaret Edds, which tells the story of two Virginia lawyers who were involved in Brown v. Board of Education.
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