Racism and redemption: Virginia blackface row sparks national debate

Warner speaks with news media at the U.S. Capitol building in Washington U.S

Virginia power crisis escalates with 2nd woman accusing Democrat Lt. Governor of rape

Virginia's state government seemed to come unglued on February 8 as an embattled Gov. Ralph Northam made it clear he won't resign and the man in line to succeed him was hit with another sexual assault accusation and barraged with demands that he step down, too.

Meredith Watson claims she was raped by Fairfax in a "premeditated and aggressive assault" while both were students at Duke University back in 2000.

Earlier in the week, Vanessa Tyson, a professor of political science at Scripps College, came forward with an allegation that Justin Fairfax had sexually assaulted her in 2004, while they were at the Democratic National Convention in Boston.

Herring - who would become governor if both Northam and Fairfax resign - had previously called on Northam to resign and came forward after rumors about the existence of a blackface photo of him began circulating at the Capitol.

Also on CBS, Representative Don Beyer called Northam's initial admission, and then denials, that he was in a racist photo "very bizarre" and said the governor had lost too much credibility to stay in office.

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President Donald Trump has weighed in on the controversy with several tweets.

Democratic Party leaders have demanded that Fairfax resign, and one state lawmaker has said he'll start impeachment proceedings if that doesn't happen.

Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax meanwhile has been denying claims of sexual assault and rape.

Virginia "needs someone who is strong who has empathy, who has courage and who has a moral compass", Northam told CBS News on Sunday, in his first televised interview since the scandal broke. Justin Fairfax of rape said Saturday that they are ready to testify at an impeachment hearing.

"I will clear my good name and I have nothing to hide", Fairfax wrote, and declared: "I will not resign".

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Duke also released a statement regarding the allegation on Saturday. Northam has denied that he is in the photo. I want to stand here in that truth and restate that my truth, as well as the truth of Dr. Tyson and Ms. Watson, should be fully investigated and thoroughly assessed. "I have learned from this, I have a lot more to learn, but we're in a unique opportunity now".

Northam, a Democrat, has refused calls to step down after an old medial school yearbook photo showing a person in blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan outfit surfaced a week ago.

Northam said he planned to focus on addressing issues stemming from inequality, including improving access to health care, housing, and transportation.

Boyd, whose group says it represents 109,000 farmers across the country, said on Twitter that he urged the governor not to step down. It has been an especially devastating time for the great Commonwealth of Virginia. In a poll conducted late last week by The Washington Post and the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University, respondents were evenly divided as to whether Northam should resign.

Both men, who are white, have admitted to wearing a blackface while they were in college. On Friday, the Democratic Lieutenant Governors Association removed Fairfax from its leadership ranks, naming officials from DE and Washington state in his place.

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