According to the resignation letter, Northam will step down as governor and transfer the governor’s mansion to the lieutenant governor who accepted the post in Northam’s stead.
Northam’s decision comes after the controversial statue removed from a public park in Charlottesville last month. The statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee was taken down from the city’s Emancipation Park and placed on private property on a larger plot of land. The move was made despite the outcry of local residents.
While calling for the statue’s removal, Northam had also maintained that he remained an “honorary member” of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
A rally supporting the statue later took place outside the governor’s mansion, and Northam also was forced to defend himself during a debate.
“I abhor racism and the evil that fueled the confederate movement,” Northam told state lawmakers at the time. “We must all work to make Virginia a more welcoming place. I believe that discrimination of any kind is unacceptable.”
Despite the heightening political tensions over the past month, the Confederate battle flag was not raised at Thursday’s event. Instead, the attendees were given t-shirts reading “Virginia Unites,” the official slogan for the rally.
Northam thanked his family, supporters and fellow politicians for their help in his decision to resign.
“I am honored to serve as your governor,” he wrote. “I will continue to fight for the values you hold dear, the values that make Virginia a beacon of hope for people across the globe, and a beacon of inspiration for those who share Virginia’s proud history and heritage.”
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, also a Democrat, made a splash in the media Monday with his own admission that he once wore blackface at a 1980 party.
“I have the utmost respect for the men and women who have served in the armed forces and their families. They have my profound gratitude for all they do to keep us safe, protect our liberty, and keep us resilient,” Herring wrote. “For over 30 years, I have been honored to be a teacher and counselor at James Madison High School, and we are one of the finest schools in Virginia.”
“I wear my heart on my sleeve, and I have shown that in my career and in my life. Since coming to Richmond, I have sought to model my public service after this deeply honorable tradition,” Herring wrote. “As we begin a new chapter, my primary responsibility will be to ensure that the dignity of every person is upheld, protected, and celebrated.”
In his resignation letter, Northam also outlined steps he plans to take to begin a healing process and move forward. Those include making a donation of $50,000 to a “unity fund” that will provide financial support for the victims of the “Unite the Right” rally and their families.
Northam also plans to select a new Chief Medical Officer and address health disparities in Northern Virginia, where Northam used to serve as lieutenant governor.