A group of 35 black Liberty University Alumni scolded the school’s president over a blackface tweet mocking Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam. The alumni are calling for Jerry Falwell Jr. to step down as leader of the Christian institution.
Jerry Falwell Jr. has made a habit of downplaying the public health risks of coronavirus. Recently, Gov. Northam issued an order that face masks be worn inside all retail stores and when using public transportation.
Falwell took to twitter to express his displeasure at such a request. He said he was completely against the governor’s mandate until he decided he would design his own. With his post, he included a photoshop picture of a mask bearing an image of a person in blackface standing alongside another person in a KKK costume.
“I was adamantly opposed to the mandate from Gov. Northam requiring citizens to wear face masks until I decided to design my own. If I am ordered to wear a mask, I will reluctantly comply,” Falwell tweeted, “but only if this picture of Governor Blackface himself is on it!”
Last year, Gov. Northam admitted he was one of two men in the picture. A medical school he attended published the picture in its yearbook.
“Just so folks outside Virginia unfamiliar with the pic on the mask understand: it is from the personal page of the medical school yearbook of Gov. Northam. Just a way to shine a spotlight on the fact that Democrats are and always have been the real racists in this country,” Falwell added.
In a letter written to Falwell, 35 black faith leaders and former student-athletes called for the president’s resignation. In the letter, the group said Falwell “has repeatedly violated and misrepresented” Christian values. As a result, they threatened to stop urging students to attend Liberty University as well as stop donating to the school.
“You have belittled staff, students, and parents, you have defended inappropriate behaviors of politicians, encouraged violence, and disrespected people of other faiths,” the letter reads. They also said the president’s “heart is in politics more than Christian academia or ministry.”
“While your tweet may have been in jest about Virginia’s Governor, it made light of our nation’s painful history of slavery and racism,” the letter continued. Additionally, they asked Falwell to “withdraw your racist tweet immediately and make a public apology.”
Falwell contends that he meant no harm to minorities. In fact, he said he tweeted the blackface image to defend the University. Northam is trying to severely cut tuition assistance which would hurt many Liberty students, including minorities.
“The governor’s intent was to harm Liberty, and to harm minority students and to harm low-income students. People needed to be reminded of (Northam’s) racist past,” Falwell said.