Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is facing backlash yet again after he referred to slaves as “indentured servants” in a recent interview.
Northam — who is already facing mounting pressure to step down after becoming embroiled in a racist photo scandal — was on CBS This Morning earlier this week when he told host Gayle King that the slaves who came to Virginia from Africa in the 17th century were “indentured servants.”
“We are now at the 400-year anniversary – just 90 miles from here in 1619, the first indentured servants from Africa landed on our shores in Old Point Comfort, what we now call Fort Monroe,” he said.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam: “We are now at the 400-year anniversary — just 90 miles from here in 1619. The first indentured servants from Africa landed on our shores in Old Point Comfort, what we call now Fort Monroe, and while—”@GayleKing: “Also known as slavery” pic.twitter.com/AiX96MU1rJ
— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) February 10, 2019
The Democrat was quickly interrupted by King, who clarified that said “servants” were actually slaves.
In response to the comment, some used social media to express their disgust.
Words like “Indentured servant” is how people try to erase the pain and horrors of slavery. It is how they think it harmless to wear blackface. @RalphNortham is done. If he won’t resign, he needs to be forced out. https://t.co/2MfDIFtdX6
— Julissa Arce (@julissaarce) February 10, 2019
“Words like ‘Indentured servant’ is how people try to erase the pain and horrors of slavery. It is how they think it harmless to wear blackface. @RalphNortham is done. If he won’t resign, he needs to be forced out,” author Julissa Arce tweeted.
Responding to the new wave of backlash, the politician said in a statement to CBS News that he recently spoke on the matter at an event, and in that instance, referred to the Africans as “enslaved.” He claimed that he changed his terminology upon receiving advice from a historian.
“During a recent event at Fort Monroe I spoke about the arrival of the first Africans in Virginia and referred to them in my remarks as enslaved,” the statement read. “A historian advised me that the use of indentured was more historically accurate — the fact is, I’m still learning and committed to getting it right.”
According to the National Museum of African American History & Culture, slaves were “sometimes” treated more like indentured servants — whose negotiated contracts determined an end to their service in advance — prior to 1641, when Massachusetts became the first colony to legalize slavery.
RELATED: Virginia Gov. Says He Knew Blackface Was Wrong But Amid Scandal, ‘Reality Has Really Set In’
Northam — a physician and former State Senator who was sworn into office last month — has repeatedly declared his intentions to remain the governor of Virginia, despite intense fallout over a yearbook photo featuring a man in blackface and a man wearing a KKK robe.
“Virginia needs someone that can heal. There’s no better person to do …read more