MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Gov. Kay Ivey reiterated Tuesday she won’t resign after the Alabama NAACP asked her to step down for participating in a blackface skit when she was in college.
“Heavens no, I’m not going to resign. That was something that happened 52 years ago, and I’m not that person and my administration stands on being inclusive and helping people,” she told reporters Tuesday. "I’m full speed ahead.”
Watch Ivey’s full interview below:
Ivey apologized Thursday after the administration listened to a taped interview of Ivey and her then-fiance, Ben LaRavia, describing Ivey as wearing coveralls with black paint on her face. The interview was on the Auburn student radio station in 1967. Ivey was the Student Government Association Vice President at Auburn University at the time.
Gina Maiola, press secretary for Ivey, said the administration was made aware of the interview the night of Aug. 27, and Ivey heard the audio the next morning. The tape surfaced during an ongoing project by the university’s library to digitize years of audio tapes, Maiola said.
“I was shocked to hear the tape," Ivey said Tuesday while speaking to reporters. “I didn’t remember being at the Baptist Student Union in any kind of skit like that for sure. But I apologize for it. I should have not done that, and I know it’s important to apologize to the people of Alabama.”
Tuesday morning, U.S. Sen. Doug Jones addressed the topic when speaking at a breakfast in Montgomery.
“I really want to try to seize this moment, as uncomfortable as it might be to talk about," Jones said. “There is a long and painful history associated with blackface in this country. It’s been used to demean and dehumanize African Americans and there is absolutely no excuse for it. But I appreciate the way Gov. Ivey has addressed this issue in such a straightforward manner. Accepting responsibility while apologizing, expressing sincere remorse, are important ways to move beyond our mistakes of the past.”
Reaction came in from across the state when Ivey released the news late last week. State Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, said the news was painful, but he accepted her apology and wanted to encourage conversations about race relations.
The Alabama NAACP said Ivey should resign and her apology “does not erase the fact that she participated in these activities that mocked and intimidated African Americans.”
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.”
When WSFA 12 News asked Ivey about what steps can be taken toward racial reconciliation, Ivey said she would listen to the recommendations people have. She then continued to talk about the number of people working in the state.
“We don’t focus on racial divides. My administration is one to be inclusive, and we will continue doing that,” she said.
The Alabama Republican Party Chairwoman said they appreciated the governor for sincerely apologizing and said the group stands by the governor.
ALABAMA NAACP RESPONDS TO GOVERNOR KAY IVEY
At Ivey’s call for recommendations, the Alabama NAACP offered there own.
“Governor Ivey wants us to look at the record,” a statement read. “Here it is. During Governor Ivey’s administration, she refused to Expand Medicaid, did not support Birmingham increase in minimum wage; Governor Ivey even signed a bill approving the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act of 2017. A law that upholds racism and the effects of racism.”
Alabama NAACP said if Ivey wants to “heal the land, or correct errors, or even make right the wrongs” she has the power to do that.
“You are the leader who can do away with the status quo, and you are in a key position to leave a legacy that heals the hearts of Southerners who got slavery and the confederacy wrong, heal Alabamians and lead Americans,” the statement said. “We are better than honoring those who led us into darkness, calamity and shame. No, we don’t need to erase our history, but we do need to make right, what was done wrong.”
The organization listed some ways Ivey can improve racial reconciliations:
Meet with the Alabama NAACP, African American leaders and others who have invaluable knowledge on how to move the state forward, level the playing field in areas of education, and healthcare...Expand Medicaid. Admit what is wrong and make it right! And protect the lives of all Alabamians and see their value, by stopping the attacks on people of color from law enforcement who make attempts to erase the 14th Amendment which is a guarantee provided by the state – “A right to life, liberty and property.”
Alabama NAACP also reiterated its call for Ivey to resign.
“If Governor Ivey cannot level the playing field for every Alabamian, then just maybe her blackface skit performed 52 years ago has shaped who she is today,” said Benard Simelton, president of the Alabama NAACP. “Furthermore, The NAACP believes Governor Ivey needs to do the right thing and resign as Governor and let someone lead the people of Alabama into a brighter and more inclusive future, not the status quo.”