VA governor, Liam Neeson controversies reignite discussions about racism today

As Black History Month kicks off, conversations about blackface and Neeson revealing a past revenge plan to harm a black man showcase the complexities of a country still grappling with its past.
8:26 | 02/07/19

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Transcript for VA governor, Liam Neeson controversies reignite discussions about racism today
It's a dangerous political Marshall hope that something black. Yeah. Pump graphical. So I can kill. Race. He sometimes just scratched the surface and you discovered this race is Democrat governor. He's the firestorm over the racist. I am not either of the faithful is in that photo. Sued new swipes at one of America's oldest wounds Virginia governor rob north and actively indecent but he said and did in what it says about all of us and race and can't or shouldn't pass sentence be forgiven. The structure of wade allowed some of these racist practices that drive an exists is still needs to be broken. Out so we sat down with thought leaders to examine how the nation is once again confronting racism and what this. Uncomfortable conversation means for our future. If there's any value. And these recent conversations around race. It's that were starting to get a window. Into the thought processes of people who were still wrestling with the contradictions of racism. The recent slate of scandals began a bowl days on the first day of Black History Month. When this photo surfaced from Virginia governor Ralph north n.'s medical school yearbook join one men in black face and the other dressed as a member of the Ku klux client. North once viewed as a rising star in the Democratic Party. Somebody. You will all be proud that happens you're ago. Now mired in controversy after he first admitted he was one of the two people picture. That photo. And the racist and offensive attitude to represent. Does not reflect that person I am today I am deeply sorry. But the next day he denied it's not me. No more than a dozen prominent leaders from north m.'s own party have called for him to step down. The previous governor of Virginia a Democrat said north them must go. There is no way you can continue to be the governor McConnell while Virginia the north and now denies that he is in that photo. He says he has appeared in black face before. That same year I did participate in advance kind of death in San Antonio. In which I darken my face as part of a Michael Jackson Costin he's just a little bit a shoe polish to put undermine our own my cheeks. And the reason I use a very little bit is because I know nothing about ever tried that but you cannot get shoe polish off he now says he regrets that constant I look back now and regret that I did not understand the harmful legacy. Of an action. Like that the offensive part about governor northern dressing up like Michael Jackson isn't the dressing and it's not the impersonation. It's the shoe polish city put on his face while doing it. He dressed in black face. Marc LaMont a professor at Temple University says north and is missing the point there's a long history of white racists public culture. That uses. Black face as a way to. And marginalize and ultimately you race black citizens of America. Jameel a mile and you're based columnist believes north and betrayed the black voters who helped elect him as a some idol would not have been elected without the African American. Nor could who has ignored those mounting calls for his resignation is staying in office. All the politicians calling for north him to resign. Is Virginia attorney general mark. It is no longer possible for governor north and to lead our commonwealth but just today. Herring was forced to make his own apology when he admitted to dressing up mr. rapper in wearing brown makeup on his face during a college party in 1980. IBM deeply deeply sorry for the pain I cause with his revelation Herring wrote in the state. But he stuck shorter resigning running instead that honest conversations and discussions will determine if he remains on the job. Sit down with Bob Brown a PR firm consultant to four to 500 companies. And a veteran of the civil rights movement who travel width and advise the likes of doctor Martin Luther king and Nelson Mandela. From city into the ugly days of Bull Connor him Birmingham. Brown was there. And he gave his take on how the country should be responding to governor in north of his revelations of past racism. Do you think society is making too big a deal about something that happened. Thirty plus years ago I think to a certain extent. We we are making too big food deal and from what we need to do is hills how many problems that we are right now audio. Millions of young black people are dead or limited job. In the midst of all this political scandal actor DeLeon Neeson found himself confronted not with racist actions but thoughts. He offered up himself German interview with the independent about his new film called pursuit. And it Mason described an incident that happened decades earlier involving a close friend if that is who we says was assaulted. I asked. If it is you know who don't know. What color. She showed for the smaller version I don't know its own experience. We'll crush cool and I'm pretty. Our troops. Assignment I'm ashamed to say. I tell you from maybe a week hope that something. Like. And come. Quote something so I couldn't kill. The very next day he said down with my colleague Robin Roberts to discuss his remarks we return oppressed turncoat analysts. You know of the topic over film this isn't mister banks and thin lady journalist was asking me how do you tapping into that. In response Tyson says she called that incident with its ran. And a lust for vengeance that it's feel it really shocked me this primal urge. It shocked me hurt me I'm not racist I I'd. I that this was nearly forty years ago. Did the same reaction if you're for that said it was a white man wanted to go out devilish I was trying to. Shall honor to my stand out from my dear friends what are you hoping that people will learn from. Making these statements to talk to open up two to talk but these things Janelle hill former ESPN anchor in current writer for the Atlanta. Didn't mince words when discussing Mason's interview with my colleague Michael Strahan. Send any credit be given to him for say when he said that Ed then. Coming on GMA yeah. No and the reason I don't give them any credit for it because I didn't you're an apology yet others praised on Neeson confronted his behavior I found what he said. Refreshing in away and so not PC at a time when maybe the conversation doesn't need to be PC because he admitted that he had problems he admitted that he had a look at stocks that were bad. The crisis manager and ABC contributor Howard Bragman says. Neeson should never even told that story to begin. He time you get into race and racial issues. I call race the third rail of reputation. It's taken down many many careers. It remains to be seen what will happen with me since Couri here. As for governor in north Bob Brown at age 83 remains hopeful this latest episode more Flickr than flash point. From Jim Crow took part time he sets forgiveness and faith do more to heal wounds than force or finger point. If you go get all the people who had a black faith. You gonna can do you know of their whole life on the fact that they had a Black Friday they did some like that. Then. In the whole lot of people in the country. Aboard a piquant the end all be convenient because they did move it much worse things. No they need to that they need to fess up. I would tell me am hey don't say what you gonna do a terrible whole series of things that you going to do. That changed his country from that kind of thing. It was Bob Brown's friend Nelson Mandela who said it pupil can learn to hate. They can be taught to love.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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