Just days after getting caught in a controversy involving racial insensitivity, Virginia’s Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam became engulfed in another on Sunday.

Northam was speaking to Gayle King on CBS This Morning about the 400-year anniversary of slaves arriving to the U.S. from Africa, although he didn’t call them slaves. Instead, he referred to them as “indentured servants” and King quickly corrected him.

“We are now at the 400-year anniversary — just 90 miles from here in 1619, the first indentured servants from Africa landed on our shores in Old Point Comfort, what we call now Fort Monroe ― ” Northam began.

“Also known as slavery,” King interrupted.

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“Yes,” Northam replied.


“Indentured servants” is a term typically used to designate people who signed a contract saying they agreed to come to the U.S. and work for a given number of years in return for passage and freedom. On the other hand, slaves were forced to come to America to work and for many years had no hope of becoming free.

Northam responded to his latest comments in a statement in which he said he is “still learning and committed to getting it right.”

Earlier this month, Northam faced calls to resign after he confessed to wearing blackface in medical school during the 1980s for a Michael Jackson dance competition. After the yearbook photo surfaced — which featured Northam standing beside a man in a Ku Klux Klan uniform — the governor apologized and then made several strange comments to defend himself that only drew further backlash. Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring also admitted to wearing blackface in college during the 1980s.

King also asked Northam in Sunday’s interview about this scandal, and the governor said he realizes he was “born into white privilege” and that he knew blackface was offensive when he did it.

“I’m not the same person now at age 59 that I was back in my early 20s,” said Northam.

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