Calls for his resignation came from the NAACP, the Republican Governors Association, Virginia’s Republican Party and some national Democrats, including presidential hopefuls Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Julián Castro, a former mayor of San Antonio.

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RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam on Friday acknowledged appearing in a “clearly racist and offensive” photograph in his 1984 medical-school yearbook that shows a man in blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan robe.

“I am deeply sorry for the decision I made to appear as I did in this photo and for the hurt that decision caused then and now,” he said. “This behavior is not in keeping with who I am today and the values I have fought for throughout my career in the military, in medicine and in public service. But I want to be clear, I understand how this decision shakes Virginians’ faith in that commitment.”

Northam, 59, a Democrat, did not say whether he was the man in blackface or the one in the Klan robe.

Calls for his resignation came from the NAACP, the Republican Governors Association, Virginia’s Republican Party and some national Democrats, including presidential hopefuls Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Julián Castro, a former mayor of San Antonio.

“Black face in any manner is always racist and never okay,” tweeted Derrick Johnson, president of the NAACP. “No matter the party affiliation, we can not stand for such behavior, which is why the @NAACP is calling for the resignation of Virginia Governor @RalphNortham.”

Virginia’s two Democratic senators, Mark Warner and Tim Kaine — former governors themselves — also gently nudged Northam toward the exits, issuing statements urging him to reflect on how to move forward.

Members of the state Legislature’s Black Caucus stopped short late Friday of demanding Northam step down but said, “What has been revealed is disgusting, reprehensible, and offensive. We feel complete betrayal.”

A statement released by the governor in the early evening indicated he intended to continue in office.

In his statement, Northam said he recognized “that it will take time and serious effort to heal the damage this conduct has caused. I am ready to do that important work. The first step is to offer my sincerest apology and to state my absolute commitment to living up to the expectations Virginians set for me when they elected me to be their Governor.”

The image in the yearbook from Eastern Virginia Medical School was on a page with other photos of Northam and personal information about the future governor. Northam, a pediatric neurologist, graduated from the medical school in Norfolk in 1984 after earning an undergraduate degree from Virginia Military Institute.

The yearbook page is labeled “Ralph Shearer Northam” and has photos of him in a jacket and tie, casual clothes and alongside his restored Corvette.

But another photo shows two people, one in plaid pants, bow tie and blackface and the other in a Klan robe and hood. Both men appear to be holding beer cans. The person in blackface is smiling. Beneath the photo, Northam lists his alma mater and his interest in pediatrics and offers a quote: “There are more old drunks than old doctors in this world so I think I’ll have another beer.”

Jack Wilson, chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, said Northam should step down. “Racism has no place in Virginia,” Wilson said in a statement. “These pictures are wholly inappropriate. If Governor Northam appeared in blackface or dressed in a KKK robe, he should resign immediately.”

Whether the governor remains in office was in doubt late Friday and largely hinges on whether he can maintain support among the state’s black pastors, officials and state lawmakers, many of whom have had long personal relationships with Northam since he first ran for state Senate in 2007.

Vivian Paige, a longtime political activist in Norfolk who has known Northam since he first ran for office, said she was distraught over the news and felt Northam should step down. “I’m disappointed, and I believe that he can’t lead the party anymore,” said Paige, who is African American. “Ralph and I are a year apart in age. It really cuts to the bone to me that someone would do that at our age. Our generation — the tail end of the baby boom — we grew up in an integrated society. How could you not know that was wrong?”

The yearbook image was first posted Friday by the website Big League Politics, a conservative outlet founded by Patrick Howley, a former writer for the Daily Caller and Breitbart.

The Washington Post independently confirmed the authenticity of the yearbook by viewing it in the medical-school library in Norfolk.

The revelation comes after a wild week for Northam, who was accused by Republicans of advocating infanticide after he made comments defending a bill that would have lifted restrictions on late-term abortions in cases where a mother’s health was at risk.

Senate Minority Leader Richard Saslaw, D-Fairfax, a Northam ally, defended the governor. “His whole life has been about exactly the opposite, and that’s what you need to examine, not something that occurred 30 years ago,” Saslaw said. “While it’s in very poor taste, I would think no one in the General Assembly would like their college conduct examined.”

Saslaw later said he agreed with the legislative Black Caucus.

Sen. Richard Stuart, R-King George, one of the governor’s closest friends, said he had not been able to talk to Northam about the yearbook and did not know what to make of it, but stood by the governor. “He’s my friend and I will always stand up for him,” said Stuart, who also took exception to claims that Northam had advocated infanticide.

Joan Naidorf, whose husband’s page is opposite Northam’s in the yearbook, said she was surprised the photos are only now coming out, given Northam’s stature in Virginia politics. “We’ve often wondered over the last 10 years or so why someone didn’t dig this up sooner,” said Joan Naidorf, a nonpracticing emergency-room physician who lives in Alexandria.

Northam has built his 12-year political career on a clean-cut image as a soft-spoken doctor and Army veteran who headed the Honor Council at VMI, a demanding job in which he passed judgment on fellow students accused of lying or violating the school’s honor code. After getting his medical degree from Eastern Virginia, he did residencies elsewhere. But he returned to the Norfolk area, where he practiced pediatric neurology at a children’s hospital. He also joined the faculty of his medical school, where, according to his official biography, he taught medicine and ethics.

He also served in the Army for eight years, treating soldiers wounded in the Gulf War.

After serving as Gov. Terry McAuliffs’s lieutenant governor, Northam ran for governor in 2017. During the campaign, he paid special attention to black churches, often attending two or three on Sundays. His home pastor is African American.

After the racial violence in Charlottesville that summer, Northam was among the quickest Virginia political figures to react, making an emotional plea that all Confederate monuments should come down.

He later walked that back and now says it should be up to localities, but he recently said that his personal belief is that such statues are harmful.

Last week, Michael Ertel, Florida’s secretary of state, resigned after the emergence of photos from 2005 of him in blackface, apparently mocking victims of Hurricane Katrina.