Alabama governor apologizes for wearing blackface in college
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey apologized Thursday for wearing blackface decades ago, becoming the latest politician to face scrutiny over racially insensitive photos and actions from their university days.
Ivey, 74, issued the apology after a 1967 radio interview surfaced in which her now-ex-husband describes her actions at Auburn University, where she was vice president of the student government association.
“I offer my heartfelt apologies for the pain and embarrassment this causes, and I will do all I can - going forward - to help show the nation that the Alabama of today is a far cry from the Alabama of the 1960s,” Ivey said.
Ivey released a recording of the college radio interview she and then-fiance Ben LaRavia gave. In the interview, LaRavia describes Ivey as wearing coveralls and “black paint all over her face” while pretending to search for used cigars on the ground in a skit at the Baptist Student Union party. The skit was called “Cigar Butts.”
Ivey and LaRavia were married for a short time and later divorced.
Ivey said Thursday that she did not remember the skit, but “will not deny what is the obvious.”
“As such, I fully acknowledge - with genuine remorse - my participation in a skit like that back when I was a senior in college.”
“While some may attempt to excuse this as acceptable behavior for a college student during the mid-1960s, that is not who I am today, and it is not what my Administration represents all these years later.”
Ivey is the latest politician to face scrutiny over wearing blackface decades ago.
A racist photo in the medical school yearbook of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam led to calls for his resignation. Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring also acknowledged wearing blackface in college.
In February, when The Associated Press asked Ivey about her sorority sisters wearing blackface in her 1967 yearbook, she said she had never worn blackface and didn’t recall ever participating in a racially insensitive event.
The 1967 yearbook photo shows five members with black masks portraying “minstrels” in a rush skit. Its caption reads, “Alpha Gam Minstrels welcome rushees aboard their showboat.”
The photo is on the same page as a description of the sorority and the accomplishments of its members. The page notes that Ivey was vice president of the student body.
“When I was shown that picture, it had to be a rush skit or something at the sorority at some point in time, but no, I didn’t remember it,” she said at the time. “I certainly wasn’t a part of it.”