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U.S. Governor Apologises For 'Blackface' Yearbook Photos

Virginia Govenor Ralph Northam's medical school yearbook page surfaced Friday, containing a photograph of two unidentified men -- one appears to be wearing blackface standing next to another in a Ku Klux Klan costume.

The page, which was first reported by the conservative website Big League Politics and then by local newspaper Virginian-Pilot, is from the 1984 East Virginia Medical School yearbook, the year which Northam graduated.

Hours after the photo emerged, Northam faced calls to resign from the NAACP, at least three 2020 Democratic hopefuls for president, Planned Parenthood and the Virginia GOP.

Gov. Ralph Northam's medical school yearbook page. Image: WTVR News 3. Brendan Ponton

He said in a video posted to Twitter that he has "spent the past year fighting for a Virginia that works better for all people" and he is "committed to continuing that fight through the remainder of my term."

Northam released a statement Friday afternoon apologising for the photo, saying, "I am deeply sorry for the decision I made to appear as I did in this photo and for the hurt that decision caused then and now."

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"This behavior is not in keeping with who I am today and the values I have fought for throughout my career in the military, in medicine, and in public service.

But I want to be clear, I understand how this decision shakes Virginians' faith in that commitment," Northam said.

"I recognise that it will take time and serious effort to heal the damage this conduct has caused. I am ready to do that important work.

"The first step is to offer my sincerest apology and to state my absolute commitment to living up to the expectations Virginians set for me when they elected me to be their Governor."

Ralph Northam. Image: Getty Images

Several hours later Friday night, Northam posted a video on Twitter saying his previous statement fell "far short of the standard you set for me when you elected me to be your governor" and "I believe you deserve to hear directly from me."

"That photo, and the racist and offensive attitudes it represents, does not reflect the person I am today, or the way that I have conducted myself as a soldier, a doctor, and a public servant," Northam said.

"I am deeply sorry. I cannot change the decisions I made, nor can I undo the harm my behavior caused then and today.

"But I accept responsibility for my past actions, and I am ready to do the hard work of regaining your trust."

CBS News uncovered a page from Northam's yearbook at the Virginia Military Institutewhich had nicknames listed underneath his name. One of them was "Coonman," a racial slur.