“Mrs. Northam then asked these three pages (the only African American pages in the program) if they could imagine what it must have been like to pick cotton all day,” Walker alleged in her letter. “I can not for the life of me understand why the first lady would single out the African American pages for this — or — why she would ask them such an insensitive question.”
Virginia’s first lady, for her part, apologized for the incident in a statement on Wednesday, saying “I regret that I have upset anyone.”
The governor’s office, for its part, insisted that Northam merely gave the cotton to whoever was closest to her (incidentally two Black children, I suppose), wanting to draw attention to the sharpness of the raw cotton so that they could picture how difficult it was to handle all day.
Walker’s daughter also wrote a letter to Pam Northam, where she stated she did not take the cotton, although her friend did, making the child “uncomfortable.” She also noted that the handing off of the cotton was one thing, but implied that the follow-up questions made the incident uncalled for.
“I will give you the benefit of the doubt, because you gave it to some other pages,” the girl wrote to Pam Northam. “But you followed this up by asking: ‘Can you imagine being an enslaved person, and having to pick this all day?’, which didn’t help the damage you had done.”
This situation is sure not to help the Northams case. There have been many people demanding his resignation since the release of his yearbook photos showing one man dressed in Blackface and another clad in KKK robes. Gov. Northam has so far resisted the calls for his resignation, prompting Black officials in the state to release demands that they want Northam – and Attorney General Mark Herring who is also caught in a Blackface scandal – to follow through with in order to give an honest show of reconciliation.