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Local NAACP Member Explains The Painful History Of Blackface

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18)- Blackface and its painful history are huge topics of conversation right now.

It all started earlier this month when yearbook photos resurfaced of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam dressed in blackface.  The topic resurfaces every Halloween when a photo of college students in blackface show up on social media networking sites.

The history of blackface goes back much deeper in American history, taking root centuries ago,  and was a huge source of racial segregation.

At first, came an apology from Virginia Governor Northam, which was then followed by a denial that he was even in the yearbook photo.

However, whether Northam was one of the men pictured or not, much of America is outraged by the photo.

Those photos reveal a racist American history dating back centuries, to a time when white actors would smear tar on their faces to portray African-Americans on stage in an unflattering life.

Adrian Wallace, an active member of the NAACP of Kentucky, admits he doesn’t know the appropriate action for the governor to take but believes we need more discussion behind the meaning of the act.

“It was offensive then. It’s offensive now,” Adrian Wallace, Vice President of the NAACP of Kentucky told LEX 18’s Eleanor Buckley. “Whites in America created the minstrel shows as a mockery of black people, so blackface was always meant to be and still is disparaging towards black people.”

“It’s about dialogue, ” said Wallace. “It’s about creating spaces, safe spaces, where people can be honest, and social media and Facebook is certainly not it. It’s not going to be helpful to go back and forth and banter, and argue, but creating a safe space where people can truly come and have honest conversations.”

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