Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey admits she was wrong for sporting blackface during a college skit but says she has no plans of quitting her post over something that happened so very long ago.
“Heavens no, I’m not going to resign,” Ivey, 74, told reporters Tuesday in her first public appearance since publicly apologizing last week. “It’s something that happened 52 years ago and I’m not that person”
“My administration stands on being inclusive and helping people,” she added. “I’m full speed ahead.”
The Republican governor apologized Thursday after a resurfaced college radio interview from 1967 in which her then-fiancé Ben LaRavia described Ivey as wearing overalls and “black paint all over her face” for a skit at the Baptist Student Union, according to The Associated Press. Ivey was the vice president of Auburn University‘s Student Government Association at the time.
The damning tape was uncovered by a group of Auburn students tasked with digitizing years of audio tapes housed in the university’s library as part of an ongoing project
Ivey had previously denied ever wearing blackface and, on Tuesday, said she didn’t recall performing the offensive skit at all.
“I was shocked to hear the tape,” she told reporters. “I didn’t remember being at the Baptist Student Union in any kind of skit like that for sure. But I apologize for it. I should have not done that, and I know it’s important to apologize to the people of Alabama.”
Ivey’s admission and subsequent apology was well received by most Alabama leaders, including Black Sen. Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro), who said he appreciated the governor for “owning” the incident.
While news of the act was “painful,” the state Senate Minority Leader said he accepted Ivey’s apology and hopes to have more conversations around race relations.
The Alabama NAACP wasn’t as jovial, however. The civil rights group has called for Ivey’s immediate resignation and argued that her apology “does not erase the fact that she participated in these activities that mocked and intimidated African Americans.”
In a statement, the NAACP underscored the governor’s refusal to expand Medicaid or raise the minimum wage, as well as her support for legislation to preserve Confederate monuments. The group argued that if Ivey was serious about racial reconciliation, she would support policies that will help “move the state forward [and] level the playing field in areas of education, and healthcare.”
“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,” the statement read.
Alabama NAACP President Benard Simelton said that if Ivey is unwilling to do this, however, “then just maybe her blackface skit performed 52 years ago has shaped who she is today.”
“Furthermore, The NAACP believes Governor Ivey needs to do the right thing and resign as Governor and let someone lead the people of Alabama into a brighter and more inclusive future, not the status quo,” he added.
The Alabama governor said Tuesday that she’s opening to hearing suggestions about taking steps toward racial reconciliation.