Gov. Kay Ivey admitted that she wore blackface in a racist skit while attending Auburn University in the 1960s, after her office had initially denied the report. After first denying that she participated in the sketch, Ivey said she could not remember the incident but admitted it must have taken place after a recording surfaced of her ex-husband discussing the skit. Ivey apologized but said she would not resign.
“I fully acknowledge — with genuine remorse — my participation in a skit like that back when I was a senior in college,” the Republican said Thursday. “I offer my heartfelt apologies for the pain and embarrassment this causes, and I will do all I can — going forward — to help show the nation that the Alabama of today is a far cry from the Alabama of the 1960s. We have come a long way, for sure, but we still have a long way to go.”
In February, university newspaper The Auburn Plainsman published a report including racist photos found in old college yearbooks. The photos included Ivey’s sorority, Alpha Gamma Delta, performing a sketch in 1967 while wearing blackface with exaggerated caricatures of black people on their shirt pockets. The caption described the group as “minstrels,” a term frequently used for white actors who wore blackface.
Ivey’s office had at first denied that Ivey was part of the sketch even though she was part of the sorority at the time.
"After that time, she remained a member, but she took no further roles in the sorority because her focus shifted during her freshman year to SGA activities," her spokesperson told the Plainsman. “Other than that, we know nothing about (the photo).”
Earlier this week, rumors began to circulate that Ivey had contacted state lawmakers to apologize for her role in a racist college skit,AL.com reported.
On Thursday, an audio recording of a 1967 radio interview surfaced in which Ivey and her then-fiancé, Ben LaRavia, describe a skit at a Baptist Student Union party at which Ivey wore blackface.
Alabama NAACP President Benard Simelton said in a statement that the decades-old skit “apparently still shapes who she is today.”
“She refused to meet with the NAACP two years ago to discuss race relations in Alabama,” he said. “She has not taken steps to expand Medicaid in Alabama, she gladly signed bills to protect one of the most racist American symbols, the Confederate flag and monuments."
The Alabama Republican Party issued a statement defending Ivey, praising her for "taking ownership of and responsibility for this 50 plus year old incident."
Ivey’s office said she has no plans to resign.