Alveda King Calls Out Ralph Northam on What Looked Like a Racist Move

Ralph Northam, E.W. Jackson
Democratic candidate for Virginia Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam (left) refused to shake the hand of his opponent, E.W. Jackson, on camera.

Democratic candidate for Virginia Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam refused, on camera, to shake his opponent's hand. That would have been offensive enough if Northam wasn't white and his opponent, E.W. Jackson, wasn't black.

The move has sparked outcry from civil rights leaders, including Alveda King, the niece of slain civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. She says she was "saddened" to hear about Northam's disrespect and is deeply burdened by the loss of civility in politics today.   

"As one who has been elected to office as a Democratic Georgia state representative, served as a Republican presidential appointee and who has often voted as an independent, I have often said that we would all be better off without the political squabbles that tend to divide us," King says.

As King sees it, refusing to shake hands with your opponent in front of a television audience takes the loss of civility to a new low. She's hoping his refusal to shake hands had nothing to do with the color of his opponent’s skin.

"In a troubled economy, people are looking for leaders who can bring everyone together to solve the problems that confront us all," King says. "It is my hope that in these last hours of the race, Ralph Northam will recognize his inappropriate behavior and offer an apology to E.W. Jackson and to all those he hopes to represent."

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