By Mike Cason | firstname.lastname@example.org
Gov. Kay Ivey made her first public appearance today since apologizing last week for wearing blackface during a racist skit when she was a student at Auburn University in 1967, an incident the governor says she does not remember.
The governor spoke to reporters this morning after a ceremony about the state’s bicentennial at the Archives and History building in Montgomery.
Associated Press reporter Kim Chandler prefaced the first question by saying that Ivey had told her last spring that she had never worn blackface. Today, Chandler asked Ivey today what she remembered and her reaction to the revelation about the skit.
“I was shocked to hear the tape,” Ivey said. “I didn’t remember being at the Baptist Student Union for any kind of skit like that for sure. But I’ve apologized for it. I should not have done that. And I know it’s important to apologize to the people of Alabama. And since I took office in 2017, my goal has been to make Alabama as good as it can be and certainly better, or to leave the state better than when I found it.”
On Thursday, Ivey’s office released a statement and a video apologizing for the skit at the Baptist Student Union, which came to light while Auburn University was converting archived records to digital format, including a 1967 interview on the Auburn student radio station during which Ivey and her then-fiance talked and laughed about the skit.
The Alabama NAACP and two African American lawmakers – Reps. Juandalynn Givan and John Rogers of Birmingham – called on Ivey to resign because of the incident. Others said they were disappointed but accepted Ivey’s apology and said they hoped it could bring attention to improving race relations and issues important to African Americans.
“Governor Ivey wants us to look at the record,” Bernard Simelton, President of the State of Alabama NAACP said, “Here it is. During Governor Ivey’s administration, she refused to Expand Medicaid, did not support Birmingham increase in minimum wage; Governor Ivey even signed a bill approving the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act of 2017. A law that upholds racism and the effects of racism. If you want to heal the land, or correct errors, or even make right the wrongs, you have the power to do that. You are the leader who can do away with the status quo, and you are in a key position to leave a legacy that heals the hearts of Southerners who got slavery and the confederacy wrong, heal Alabamians and lead Americans. We are better than honoring those who led us into darkness, calamity and shame. No, we don’t need to erase our history, but we do need to make right, what was done wrong.”
The issues mentioned in the press release have divided black and white politicians in Alabama for several years.
Democratic lawmakers have called for Medicaid expansion since it became available under President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Ivey has not supported expansion, nor has the Republican-controlled Legislature.
Ivey’s office issued a statement last week indicating she has no intention of resigning. Ivey was asked today about her response to the calls for resignation.
“Heavens no, I’m not going to resign,” the governor said. “That was something that happened 52 years ago and I’m not that person. And my administration stands on being inclusive and helping people. We’ve got a lot of good things going on with our rebuild Alabama and broadband access being expanded and improving our education, etc. So, no, I’m full speed ahead.”
Ivey said she had heard positive comments since her apology.“Not only from African-Americans, I’ve heard a lot from them as well, but also most of the comments I’ve had have been very encouraging and very supportive and very understanding,” Ivey said. “And I’m grateful for that support and that understanding. It was a mistake when I was a student in college and I do apologize. And I’m grateful for everybody’s support, including African Americans.”