Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey apologizes for wearing blackface following resurfacing of 1960s interview

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has issued an apology following an interview that recently resurfaced from her days at Auburn University, claiming she had dressed in blackface for a skit.

Courtesy: The Auburn Plainsman

You can listen to the full interview down below:

Gov. Kay Ivey in an interview from the mid-1960s discussing a time when she wore blackface for a skit as Vice President of Auburn’s SGA.

According to the interview from the mid-1960s, Ivey was being interviewed with her then-fiance, Ben LaRavia, about their times as part of the student government on campus.

Courtesy: The Auburn Plainsman

In the interview, LaRavia is heard saying that Ivey “had on a pair of blue coveralls and she had put some black paint all over her face.” He goes on to say that Ivey pretended to look for cigarette butts on the floor during the skit.

Ivey is not heard until the end of the interview but does not deny the incident told by LaRavia.

LaRavia was also heard in the interview saying “I understand that should each of us ever reach a position where we cannot remember back to our college days, all we need to do is come back to the Auburn BSU and look back to some of the pictures they took that night. And we’d be quite humbled at this.”

Ivey responded in the interview with, “That’s true.”

Courtesy: The Auburn Plainsman

Ivey responded Thursday to the interview by apologizing and saying she did not recall the incident happening.

“Even after listening to the tape, I sincerely do not recall either the skit, which evidently occurred at a Baptist Student Union party, or the interview itself, both which occurred 52-years ago,” Ivey said. “Even though Ben is the one on tape remembering the skit – and I still don’t recall ever dressing up in overalls or in blackface – I will not deny what is obvious. As such, I fully acknowledge – with genuine remorse – my participation in a skit like that back when I was a senior in college.”

Here is Ivey’s full statement on the interview:

Despite Ivey’s apology, Alabama NAACP President Bernard Simelton said it is not enough.

“No her apology is not enough and we think she should resign,” Simelton told CBS 42 Thursday.

Simelton said that the incident, despite being from Ivey’s time at Auburn, “tells us where her heart is,” bringing up her support of a bill protecting Confederate monuments. He added that he does not believe Ivey when she said she does not remember the skit in question.

“If she doesn’t remember, what is she apologizing for,” he said. “The question is what else did she do that she does not remember.”

Other politicians have also weighed in on the controversy surrounding Ivey. Randall Woodfin, mayor of Birmingham, released the following statement:

“Blackface is a horrible stigmatization of the black experience, a practice with roots that are planted firmly in our nation’s racist past.

“Gov. Ivey, an apology is the right place to start, but that’s not enough. Not when you serve in the seventh most black state in America. 

“Admitting wrongdoing is the first step toward growth. But it cannot end there. Gov. Ivey, I urge you to continue that healing process by reaching out to the black communities you serve, hearing their needs and making transformational investments in opportunities for black residents who have been disproportionately and systematically disenfranchised.

“Here in Birmingham, we are working tirelessly to be champions of social justice, to celebrate our diversity and provide opportunity for all. Join us.”

Congresswoman Terri Sewell also released a statement in a series of tweets Thursday evening.

 

The Alabama GOP has responded to Gov. Ivey’s apology:

“The Alabama Republican Party appreciates and supports Governor Kay Ivey taking ownership of and responsibility for this 50 plus-year-old incident. While it occurred when she was a college student, Governor Ivey has stood up, admitted her mistake and offered a sincere apology though she has no recollection of the event. Her extraordinary record of public service shows her ability to work with all people regardless of race, religion or party affiliation. We stand with Governor Ivey uniting our state for a greater future.”

Auburn University has released a statement as well:

“There was a time at Auburn, and in this nation generally, when racial caricature was tolerated. It was wrong then and it is wrong today.  Auburn strives to ensure an inclusive and equitable working, living and learning environment for all members of the Auburn family. We work every day to ensure full compliance with both the letter and intent of federal and state laws in the areas of equal opportunity, affirmative action, harassment and discrimination.”

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