POLITICS

Virginia State Senator Tommy Norment Edited Yearbook With Blackface, Slurs

The Republican Senate majority leader oversaw the Virginia Military Institute's racist yearbook in 1968.
Two photos from VMI's 1968 yearbook, which was edited by the future state Sen. Tommy Norment.
Two photos from VMI's 1968 yearbook, which was edited by the future state Sen. Tommy Norment.

Virginia state Sen. Tommy Norment was once the managing editor of a yearbook chock-full of racial slurs and images depicting blackface, according to a report by The Virginian-Pilot.

Norment, the Republican majority leader of the state Senate, oversaw the Virginia Military Institute’s yearbook in 1968, the news outlet reports. In that yearbook, students appear dressed in blackface in several photos, and racial slurs are used regularly. In one instance, a student from Bangkok, Thailand, is called a “Jap” and a “Chink.” A caption under another unidentified man’s photo reads: “He was known as the ‘Barracks Jew’ having his fingers in the finances of the entire Corps.”

The VMI yearbook, called “The Bomb,” has been published continuously since 1897. You can see the whole yearbook here.

Virginia state Sen. Tommy Norment.
Virginia state Sen. Tommy Norment.

Norment released a statement on Thursday, confirming his status as a former managing editor but deflecting responsibility for the pages that contained offensive material.

“The use of blackface is abhorrent in our society and I emphatically condemn it,” he said. “As one of seven working on a 359-page yearbook, I cannot endorse or associate myself with every photo, entry, or word on each page. However, I am not in any of the photos referenced on pages 82 or 122, nor did I take any of the photos in question.”

The politician went on to note that he “supported the integration of VMI.”

On Wednesday, when HuffPost’s Daniel Marans asked if Norment had ever appeared in blackface, a spokesman had responded that he has a policy of not talking to HuffPost.

Norment is now the fourth Virginia political figure in the past week to face his own scandal and the third whose controversy involved the use of blackface.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) ― who himself graduated from VMI in 1981 ― faced bipartisan calls for his resignation after the news broke that his medical school yearbook page included a photo of one person in blackface and another in Ku Klux Klan garb. Northam denied that he was either person but admitted to wearing blackface on another occasion.

On Wednesday, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring (D) admitted that he once wore blackface, when he dressed up as a rapper for a party decades ago.

Meanwhile, Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D) has been accused of forcing a woman to perform oral sex in 2004.

This story has been updated with comment from Norment.

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