A number of black alumni of Liberty University have condemned the school’s President Jerry Falwell Jr. after he mocked the Virginia governor and the state’s coronavirus mask-wearing requirement using racist imagery.

In his tweet, Falwell referred to Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D), as the “blackface governor.” The post included an image of a mask which showed one person in blackface, another was wearing a Ku Klux Klan costume.

Falwell followed up with another tweet, saying the picture was from Northam’s medical school yearbook: “Just a way to shine a spotlight on the fact that Democrats are and always have been the real racists in this country,” Falwell wrote.

University alumni have reacted angrily. Thirty-five alumni signed a letter to Falwell, writing, “You have belittled staff, students and parents, you have defended inappropriate behaviors of politicians, encouraged violence, and disrespected people of other faiths.”

The alumni also urged Falwell to take the tweet down and make a public apology, threatening to stop donations and support of the university. One black professor said he would quit school after the tweet.

Falwell responded to the public reaction, saying he wanted to call out Northam’s past blackface scandal. “People needed to be reminded of (Northam’s) racist past,” Falwell said.

Northam previously admitted that he wore blackface to a school party but later apologized and said he wanted to help the community heal work towards racial equality.

Falwell and Northam previously conflicted on the school’s coronavirus response. While Falwell accepted the students back to school after the spring break, Northam criticized his decision. “I would suggest that President Falwell look to the actions of the leaders of Virginia’s flagship universities for how to set a strong example in this health crisis and to please reconsider his message that invites and encourages students to return to campus,” said Northam, who imposed social distancing measurements in Virginia to combat the spread of coronavirus.

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