MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Gov. Kay Ivey’s office says she has no intentions of stepping down following an apology Thursday in which she confirmed she took part in a racist skit in college more than 50 years ago.
Ivey’s press secretary, Gina Maiola, said Friday the governor has no plans to resign and added her “commitment to the state is unchanged and unwavering.”
Friday afternoon, Nichelle Nix, the director of the Governor’s Office of Minority Affairs, came out in defense of her boss.
“The Governor Ivey who I represent as a member of her cabinet has never been anything but supportive of the Governor’s Office of Minority Affairs,” Nixs said, "especially for our efforts to strengthen the educational and economic impact of Alabama’s fourteen HBCUs. I am grateful for the honor and privilege to address the needs of diverse communities across the state of Alabama as a member of Governor Ivey’s Administration. I look forward to continuing this great work to create opportunities for women and minorities with Governor Ivey’s full support.”
Some are still calling for the governor to step down, however.
“The NAACP believes she need [sic] to do the right thing and resign as Governor,” said Alabama NAACP President Bernard Simelton.
Democratic state Rep. Juandalynn Givan, of Birmingham, also called for the governor’s resignation, saying “I believe that Governor Kay Ivey or Kay Ivey, should I say, showed us who she was 52 years ago and I think that she is still that person that put on blackface.”
Other prominent Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton, of Greensboro, and U.S. Rep. Terry Sewell, District 7, reacted to the news, but did not call for Ivey to step down.
Singleton said he spoke with the governor by phone and “I felt that her apology was sincere.”
Sewell added that “only real efforts, not words, can end the racial disparities that exist in Alabama in health care, education, wealth and housing, to name a few,” and followed that by saying "Governor, there’s a lot of work to do!”
Republicans, including the state party and political leaders like Senate President Pro Tempore Del Marsh, have accepted the governor’s apologies with calls for the state to put the issue behind them.
“Governor Ivey has expressed her deepest apologies for this incident," Marsh said. "I hope we as a state can put this behind us.”
Ivey said she was made aware of a taped interview that she and her then-fiance Ben LaRavia gave to the Auburn student radio station in 1967, when she was the Student Government Association’s Vice President. The interview describes a skit she and LaRavia reportedly performed in at a Baptist Student Union party.
“As I look at my fiancé across the room, I can see her that night, she had on a pair of blue coveralls and she had put some black paint all over her face and we were acting out this skit called Cigar Butts,” LaRavia could be heard saying.
Listen to the audio of the interview here:
Ivey said she does not recall either performing in the skit or participating in the interview 52 years ago. She also doesn’t recall wearing blackface, but she said she will not deny that she did.
“As such, I fully acknowledge – with genuine remorse – my participation in a skit like that back when I was a senior in college,” she said. “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. 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.”
Ivey also issued a video message expanding on her apology, saying the state still has a long way to go in the area of racial tolerance and mutual respect.
Ivey’s office said she “is already actively engaged and looking for ways to make things right, and very importantly, she wants to help show the nation that the Alabama of today is a far cry from the Alabama of the 1960s.”
Her office went on, “that also means continuing to recruit jobs and industry to give every Alabamian the opportunity for success. That means improving our education system to ensure that all of our students can be on the path to success.”