Virginia First Lady Northam issued a statement after accusations of handing out cotton to African American pages during a meeting at the Executive Mansion.
According to CBS News reporter Ed O’Keefe, a young participant wrote to the first lady to tell her the interaction was “beyond inappropriate.”
The hits just keep coming…
— CBS News (@CBSNews) February 28, 2019
Virginia First Lady Pamela Northam distributed pieces of cotton to young legislative pages and discussed how slaves once picked cotton during a meeting at the governor’s mansion in Richmond last week, according to a young participant who wrote to the first lady to tell her the interaction was “beyond inappropriate.”
On Feb. 21, Virginia’s first couple, Gov. Ralph Northam and Pamela Northam, met with the teenage pages just days before the legislative session concluded, according to a letter sent by one of the pages and multiple adults familiar with the matter. They briefly met with the governor and posed for photographs before being led out to the mansion’s gardens by the first lady.
From there, they entered a cottage next to the garden that used to serve as a kitchen, workspace and home for slaves who worked at the mansion. The first lady discussed with the children its historical significance, according to the letter sent by the page to Virginia’s first lady.
“When in the cottage house you were speaking about cotton, and how the slaves had to pick it,” the letter says. “There are only three Black pages in the page class of 2019. When you went to hand out the cotton you handed it straight to another African American page, then you proceeded to hand it to me, I did not take it. The other page took the cotton, but it made her very uncomfortable. I will give you the benefit of the doubt, because you gave it to some other pages. More
— Greg Krieg (@GregJKrieg) February 27, 2019
Northam’s office sent News 3 the following statement on her behalf:
As First Lady, I have worked over the course of the last year to begin telling the full story of the Executive Mansion, which has mainly centered on Virginia’s governors. The Historic Kitchen should be a feature of Executive Mansion tours, and I believe it does a disservice to Virginians to omit the stories of the enslaved people who lived and worked there–that’s why I have been engaged in an effort to thoughtfully and honestly share this important story since I arrived in Richmond.
I have provided the same educational tour to Executive Mansion visitors over the last few months and used a variety of artifacts and agricultural crops with the intention of illustrating a painful period of Virginia history. I regret that I have upset anyone.
I am still committed to chronicling the important history of the Historic Kitchen, and will continue to engage historians and experts on the best way to do so in the future.
This incident comes after the Governor was embroiled in a controversy of his own after a racist photo was found on his 1984 Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook page.
Actually, I’m stunned Virginia First Lady Pamela Northam’s that ignorant even for a Democrat. You just can not make this stuff up.