On Friday, February 1, 2019, news broke that Gov. Northam’s medical school yearbook page included a photo from 1984 with one person in blackface next to a classmate dressed in KKK garb. Immediate calls for his resignation came from across the country. On the following Tuesday, allegations surfaced that Lt. Gov. Fairfax had forced a woman to have oral sex in a hotel room in Boston in 2004; another allegation involving a second woman, this time of rape, was published 48 hours later. Calls for Fairfax’s resignation became widespread as well.
Northam eventually denied he was in the photo, and went about a calm and careful rebuilding of his reputation and trust. He also rededicated himself to racial reconciliation and undertook a number of measures to do so (more money in his budget for historically black colleges, a racial inequity commission, stopping the suspension of drivers’ licenses for failure to pay court costs and fines). Calls for resignation stopped and his approval rating rose to over 50 percent by the end of the year. Fairfax fought back by filing a $400 million lawsuit against CBS News for libel and continuing to proclaim his innocence. He is still considering a run for Governor in 2021.