Virginia Union students sound off on Gov. Northam’s ‘apology tour’

Local News

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Governor Ralph Northam is preparing for what his office is calling an “apology tour.”

His first stop is Virginia Union University, where a handful of students said they see this as a “publicity stunt.”

Sophomore Nicholas Dingle plans on attending the discussion dubbed, “Faith, Identity and Social Justice.” 

“He’s trying to set the tone, coming to an HBCU first. He’s going to use it to his advantage because he wants to gain that care back within the black community,” Dingle said.

On Friday, Virginia Union University shared a release with 8News that said the governor’s attendance should not be characterized as the start of an apology tour. The statement read, in part: 

An earlier characterization of the governor’s attendance as the start of an apology tour was incorrect; it is part of his promise to start a conversation about racial injustice and the need for reconciliation where he intends to listen, learn, and continue to grow as a leader.”

Two students, Terrence Drew and Michael Taylor, wonder how sincere Gov. Northam’s actions will be. 

“Why Union? Out of all the schools surrounding union, why decide to come here?” Taylor asked. “Just because Reverend Al Sharpton came here, said what he said about you.” 

Students said it will take time to move forward and heal from the painful blackface scandal surrounding Gov. Northam. As Northam tries regaining voter confidence, students told 8News they want to keep an open mind to what the governor has to say when he makes his appearance. 

“You should at least have some type of apology,” said Drew, “that’s how I feel.” 

“You gotta come with a plan,” Taylor told 8News. “If you don’t come with a plan, there’s no reason for you to be coming at all.” 

Northam’s team sees this as an opportunity to rebuild relationships and focus on equity in the Commonwealth.  

Gov. Northam’s event kicks off Feb. 21 at 11 a.m.

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