Alabama governor apologizes for participating in racist skit while a college student

/ CBS/AP

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey apologized Thursday after audio emerged of her participation in a racist skit while she was a student at Auburn University. Her then-fiancé described her as wearing blue coveralls and said she "had put some black paint all over her face."

"While some may attempt to excuse this as acceptable behavior for a college student during the mid-1960s, that is not who I am today, and it is not what my administration represents all these years later," Ivey said in a statement.

Ivey was president of her Alpha Gamma Delta pledge class, AL.com reports. Photos emerged earlier this of her sorority sisters in blackface, although she was not in any of the photos.

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Ivey released a recording of the college radio interview she and then-fiance Ben LaRavia gave. In the interview, LaRavia describes Ivey as wearing coveralls and "black paint all over her face" while pretending to search for used cigars on the ground in a skit at the Baptist Student Union party. The skit was called "Cigar Butts."

Ivey and LaRavia were married for a short time and later divorced.

Ivey said she did not remember participating in the skit. But, she said "even after listening to the tape, I sincerely do not recall either the skit, which evidently occurred at a Baptist Student Union party, or the interview itself, both which occurred 52-years ago. Even though Ben is the one on tape remembering the skit – and I still don't recall ever dressing up in overalls or in blackface – I will not deny what is the obvious."

Ivey said "I fully acknowledge – with genuine remorse" her participation in the skit.

"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," she said.

A Republican, Ivey was sworn in as governor in 2017, replacing Robert Bentley, who resigned after pleading guilty to campaign finance laws. She was elected with more than 59 percent of the vote in 2018 in an election where not one Democratic challenger won statewide office, according to AL.com.

The emergence of the audio featuring Ivey comes just months after medical school yearbooks were found featuring racist photos of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, including an image of one person in blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan costume. Northam initially apologized for appearing in the photo but then the very next day said that he did not believe he was either of the two figures in the photo.

Northam refused to resign and later, state Attorney General Mark Herring admitted he once wore blackface at a college party.

First published on August 29, 2019 / 7:15 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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