Blackface Scandal Resurfaces In Democrat Attorney General Debate

May 6, 2021

In 2019, the state was rocked by two separate blackface scandals. Now, those scandals are playing out in the statewide Democratic primary.

Attorney General Mark Herring is facing a fierce challenge from Delegate Jay Jones, and it’s a campaign that’s heating up in the final weeks heading into the June 8th primary.


Mark Herring and Jay Jones debate Wednesday evening.
Credit WJLA livestream

During a televised debate Wednesday night, Jones went on the attack against Herring for wearing blackface when he was in college. “I sat in the room two years ago with the Black Caucus when you disclosed that you wore blackface just days after you called on Governor Northam to resign. I was there when you took that paper out of your jacket, smoothed it out on the table and read us a statement with no empathy, no compassion.”

Jones says that still pains him to this day, and he says Herring’s efforts at criminal justice reform are just an effort to cover that up.


Herring took the opportunity to make a public apology. “I am very sorry for what I did one time at age 19. It was over 40 years ago, and I am very sorry for that. It does not at all reflect the person I matured into let alone the public servant I became decades later.”

Herring says voters should judge him by his time in office, and he says he’s been the most progressive attorney general in Virginia history. Jones says anything that Herring has accomplished has been too little, too late.


This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.