Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. on Monday apologized for his May 27 tweet in which he declared he would only wear a mask if it were one depicting the 1984 photo of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam allegedly wearing blackface. The apology, issued via Twitter on Monday, came nearly two weeks after the initial tweet.
“After listening to African American LU leaders and alumni over the past week and hearing their concerns, I understand that by tweeting an image to remind all of the governor’s racist past, I actually refreshed the trauma that image had caused and offended some by using the image to make a political point,” Falwell wrote. “Based on our long relationships, they uniformly understood this was not my intent, but because it was the result. I have deleted the tweet and apologize for any hurt my effort caused, especially within the African American community.”
A number of black Liberty U. students and alumni had spoken out against Falwell, penning an open letter and forming a petition calling for his removal. “Everything about this is wrong,” Liberty alum Samantha Kelly told RVA Magazine. “The governor was all sorts of wrong about that situation but so was Jerry for re-sharing a triggering image and making light of a racist gesture at an especially sensitive time (or any time for that matter).”