Virginia governor refuses to resign after a racist photo in his yearbook surfaces

Gov. Ralph Northam, who initially said he was in the photo, said Saturday that he was certain he wasn't in blackface or wearing a KKK costume.
4:31 | 02/03/19

Coming up in the next {{countdown}} {{countdownlbl}}

Coming up next:

{{nextVideo.title}}

{{nextVideo.description}}

Skip to this video now

Now Playing:

{{currentVideo.title}}

Comments
Related Extras
Related Videos
Video Transcript
Transcript for Virginia governor refuses to resign after a racist photo in his yearbook surfaces
And we begin tonight with the breaking news. Virginia's embattled governor now saying it wasn't him in a racist photo. Ralph Northam appearing with his wife before cameras today. Taking reporters' questions and refusing to resign. Expressing disgust and repeatedly calling that photo horrific that has emerged showing two people, one in blackface and the other dressed as a member of the kkk. On his yearbook page back in medical school. The governor saying he's never seen that picture before. And tonight, revealing to a separate incident where he admits to appearing in blackface. ABC's Zachary kiesch. Reporter: Tonight, the governor of Virginia with an incredible reversal. After releasing a statement last night acknowledging he was in this yearbook photo of a man wearing blackface and someone dressed in kkk garb, today, he's refusing to resign, saying, after a closer look, it wasn't me. I did not purchase the yearbook, and I was unaware of what was on my page. When I was confronted with the images yesterday, I was appalled that they appeared on my page, but I believe then and now that I am not either of the people in that photo. Reporter: The governor claiming that he got caught up in the moment, making a rush judgement when the medical yearbook photo was revealed. Sending out an apology and taking responsibility before he claims he could closely examine the photo. I conceded that based on the evidence presented to me at the time, the most likely explanation that it was indeed me in the photo. Reporter: He now says it was a mistake, suggesting the picture was on the wrong yearbook page. I have also had a classmate who I discussed this with this morning, we talked about this situation and I said, you know, is there a possibility you think that someone could have put a photo on the wrong page? She said, it happened on numerous pages in this very yearbook. Reporter: Governor Northam said he had no recollection of wearing blackface at that party, adding, he would remember it because he had worn shoe Polish in a dance contest in 1984, dressing up as Michael Jackson. My belief that I did not wear that costume or attend that party stems in part from my clear memory of other mistakes I made in this same period of my life. That same year I did participate in a dance contest in San Antonio in which I darkened my face as part of a Michael Jackson costume. I look back now, and regret that I did not understand the harmful legacy of an action like that. Reporter: He continued with this anecdote about that night. I had the shoes. I had a glove and I used just a little bit of shoe Polish on my cheeks, and the reason I used a very little bit, because I don't know if anybody's ever tried that, you cannot get shoe Polish off. Reporter: This stunning 40-minute press conference turned bizarre at times. At one point, a reporter asking Northam if he could still moonwalk as he had in the 1984 dance contest. The governor appeared to consider trying to dance before his wife intervened. My wife says, inappropriate circumstances. Reporter: The governor then explained it wasn't until a conversation with an aide later in life that he learned why that Michael Jackson costume was offensive. Do you think as a grown adult that it's problematic that you need to have it explained to you that blackface is offensive? No. You know, I'm not a person of color and people of color experience different things. It affects them different ways. All right, Zachary joins us live now from Richmond, Virginia. The governor stating that he would not resign unless he reached a point where he thought it would be impossible to lead. Also facing questions about why he had a racially charged nickname as a young man? Reporter: The nickname appears in his college yearbook. He claims he doesn't know why. Saying, you'd have to ask the students. Tom. Zachary with that new reporting tonight. All the late developments on Northam's intention to keep his governor's seat tomorrow on "This week" with George Stephanopoulos.

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

{"duration":"4:31","description":"Gov. Ralph Northam, who initially said he was in the photo, said Saturday that he was certain he wasn't in blackface or wearing a KKK costume. ","mediaType":"default","section":"ABCNews/WNT","id":"60806692","title":"Virginia governor refuses to resign after a racist photo in his yearbook surfaces","url":"/WNT/video/virginia-governor-refuses-resign-racist-photo-yearbook-surfaces-60806692"}