Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam canceled his apology tour visit to Virginia Union University, a historically black college, after students reportedly protested his upcoming appearance. “While I appreciate [the school’s] invitation to attend tomorrow’s chapel service, I respect the wishes of the student body,” Northam tweeted Wednesday. “In lieu of my attendance, I will host the Richmond 34 at the Executive Mansion on Friday to honor their bravery and courage.” According to The Hill, VUU Student Government President Jamon Phenix wrote a letter to Northam earlier this week saying his appearance would take away from the “historical significance of our commemoration of the Richmond 34”—a group of VUU students who were arrested in 1960 while participating in a sit-in demonstration. Phenix also reportedly suggested Northam participate in a “roundtable discussion and interview” on a later date.
A racist photograph was found on Northam’s medical school yearbook page earlier this month, sparking controversy and prompting calls for him to resign. Northam reportedly said he would not leave office, and is attempting to refocus his policy agenda on “race.”