12 months ago

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey apologizes after 1960’s radio clip surfaces alleging she wore blackface

Allegations are being made that Governor Kay Ivey wore blackface while a student at Auburn University in the mid-1960’s.

This comes after Auburn’s student media discovered a radio clip from their archives in which Ivey was interviewed along with her then-fiancé, Ben LaRavia, when they were both seniors in college and she was Auburn’s SGA vice president.

In the interview, LaRavia was asked to share his favorite moments from a Baptist Student Union skit night they had recently participated in.

“Well, this does bring back a lot of fond memories,” LaRavia said. “Especially whenever I see some of the pictures that were taken. I understand that should each of us ever reach a position and we could not remember back to our college days, that all we need to do is come back to the Auburn BSU and look at some of those pictures that they took that night, and I understand that we would be quite humbled at this.”

“That’s true,” Ivey added, laughing.

“As I look at my fiancé across the room, I can see her that night,” LaRavia continued. “She had on a pair of blue coveralls and she had put some black paint all over her face, and she was — we were — acting out this skit called, ‘Cigar Butts.’ I can not go into a lengthy explanation but to say the least, I think that this skit — it did not require a lot of talent as far as verbal talent. But it did require a lot of physical acting, such as crawling around on the floor, looking for cigar butts and things like this — which certainly got a big reaction out of the audience.”

The Auburn radio host then jokingly asked Ivey if she would “like to defend” herself “from this low position” LaRavia had placed her in.

Ivey, chuckling, responded, “Well, that was just my role for the evening.”

She then discussed another memory of the skit, not directly addressing whether she was in blackface or not.

LISTEN:

Ivey and LaRavia married the year of their graduation, 1967, upon which they moved to California. After a few years, their marriage ended and Ivey returned to Alabama to enter the world of banking — and, soon, politics. LaRavia has since passed away.

In a video statement on Thursday, Ivey said she regrets her “participation in something from 52-years ago that [she finds] deeply regrettable.”

The governor’s office told Yellowhammer News that Ivey does not remember the skit in question or ever wearing blackface.

“She does not recall the incident or anything like it, and because she loves everyone in this state, she felt it was important that she take complete ownership of her participation in what she describes as very regrettable,” Ivey’s press secretary, Gina Maiola, told Yellowhammer News.

Ivey also released a separate written statement, as follows:

I have now been made aware of a taped interview that my then-fiance, Ben LaRavia, and I gave to the Auburn student radio station back when I was SGA Vice President.

Even after listening to the tape, I sincerely do not recall either the skit, which evidently occurred at a Baptist Student Union party, or the interview itself, both which occurred 52-years ago. Even though Ben is the one on tape remembering the skit – and I still don’t recall ever dressing up in overalls or in blackface – I will not deny what is the obvious.

As such, I fully acknowledge – with genuine remorse – my participation in a skit like that back when I was a senior in college.

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.

WATCH:

Transcript of Ivey’s video remarks as follows:

My fellow Alabamians.

I offer my heartfelt apologies for my participation in something from 52-years ago that I find deeply regrettable. 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.

More Alabamians are working today than at any other point in our state’s history. The hardworking men and women of our state are helping to attract a vast array of business and industry, creating a booming economy. We are supporting life-altering research. Truly, Alabamians are changing the world.

While we have come a long way, we still have a long way to go, specifically in the area of racial tolerance and mutual respect. I assure each of you that I will continue exhausting every effort to meet the unmet needs of this state. Alabamians will continue to be at the forefront of defining our promising future.

I am proud to serve each and every one of you, and I love this state we all call home.

May God continue to bless each of you and the great State of Alabama.

The governor’s office confirmed to Yellowhammer News that former Congressman Jo Bonner, Ivey’s chief of staff, was informed of the existence of the radio clip on Tuesday evening. The audio of the radio clip was played to Ivey for the first time on Wednesday morning. She then notified state legislative leadership Thursday morning, including the respective minority leaders of both chambers, State Sen. Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro) and State Rep. Anthony Daniels (D-Huntsville).

“This morning, the governor reached out to bipartisan leadership of the Legislature, as well as the lieutenant governor to express her remorse,” Maiola told Yellowhammer News.

It was previously reported by The Auburn Plainsman that an Alpha Gamma Delta, Ivey’s sorority, page in Auburn’s 1967 yearbook depicted five girls wearing blackface. Ivey has forcefully denied being in that photo. That yearbook picture does not match LaRavia’s description of Ivey from the radio clip.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

11 mins ago

7 Things: Biden selects Kamala Harris as running mate, lawsuit challenging Alabama’s mask mandate dismissed, SEC still wants to play football and more …

7. More funding for mental health programs

  • Governor Kay Ivey has announced that from some of the funding the state received through the CARES Act, $6 million is going to be sent to community health provider agencies and $1 million for the Alabama Department of Mental Health’s (ADMH) Crisis and Recovery Services program. 
  • ADMH will distribute the $6 million among about 300 agencies eligible for funds. Ivey said in a statement, “Like people around the globe, the people of our state are suffering, and I remain committed to providing the necessary support to get our state and her people back on our feet.”

6. Drop everything and get counted

610

  • With a lot a stake for the state of Alabama, it is increasingly important that every Alabama resident take part in the 2020 U.S. Census. The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs is making sure people know that by declaring today, “Drop Everything, Get Counted Day”
  • Kenneth Boswell, Alabama Counts! chairman and ADECA director makes the reasoning pretty clear, saying, “It should take each person roughly six minutes, but these six minutes are vital to Alabama’s future.” He is calling on employers to take time out of the day to ask employees to participate and then give them time to do so online.

5. TVA CEO pay being reviewed

  •  After President Donald Trump called out the Tennessee Valley Authority, the board reversed their foreign hiring decision, and now they are reviewing the $8.1 million in compensation for Tennessee Valley Authority president Jeff Lyash, interim chairman of the TVA board John Ryder has announced.
  • Ryder said that the board is committed “to doing what is best for the 10 million people in the Tennessee Valley.” He made sure to clarify that the review wasn’t of Lyash’s job performance, only of his pay that has made him the highest-paid federal employee.

4. Still no deal on coronavirus stimulus

  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said that throughout stimulus package negotiations, Democrats have been treating the pandemic as a “political game” as they are still unable to come to an agreement on legislation.
  • McConnell accused Democrats of blocking relief “over unrelated liberal demands” and even blamed the press, too, for covering “their stonewalling like any ordinary political standoff.” He added that they’re doing a “disservice” to people in America “to act like this has just been more ordinary Washington gridlock.”

3. PAC 12 and the Big Ten decide they don’t want to lose to the SEC this year

  • The college football season continues to take hit after hit with two marquee conferences, the PAC 12 and the Big Ten, deciding that they will postpone their seasons until the spring. Now that two of the big five of college football’s major conferences are quitting, the pressure is now on the SEC, Big XII and ACC to call it quits as well.
  • Most of the college campuses in these two conferences will still have students on campus in the fall. Players are not happy, and Wisconsin is continuing to practice. There were rumblings that some of the dissenting schools in these leagues might seek new homes to play college football this year but that seems to have been kiboshed.

2. Lawsuit against mask mandate dismissed

  • A lawsuit against Governor Kay Ivey, State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris and the Alabama Board of Health has been dismissed by Montgomery County Circuit Judge Greg Griffin, but the attorney on the lawsuit, Seth Ashmore, has already said that his clients are planning to appeal.
  • The Jackson County residents who brought the lawsuit argued that the mask mandate was “illegally adopted” and created a “deprivation of liberty,” but the Alabama Emergency Management Act of 1955 gives the governor authority to make these sorts of mandates.

1. Surprise! Biden picked Kamala Harris

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden has officially named U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) as his running mate for the 2020 presidential election, which makes Harris the first black woman on a presidential ticket.
  • Biden and Harris will both be subject to criticism, though, as Harris formerly was critical about Biden and even said she believed the women who accused him of sexual assault and misconduct.

2 hours ago

Rep. Palmer: Why is it Joe Biden can send his wife out but he can’t go out?

Earlier this month, Jill Biden, wife of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, began taking a more public role in her husband’s bid for the White House, participating in media interviews and campaign events.

However, Joe Biden has not been out and about as much as the former second lady, which has raised questions about the former vice president and his campaign.

During an interview with Mobile radio’s FM Talk 106.5’s “The Jeff Poor Show,” U.S. Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Hoover) asked that question and offered a theory as to why that is the case.

240

“Here’s Jill Biden, living in the same house with Joe Biden, who is out doing interviews, who is out in meetings,” Palmer said. “She’s in her 60s. She’s not as old as Joe but I believe she is in her 60s, in that age group that is considered at risk. She is able to go out and meet with people. She is able to do interviews face to face but Joe can’t. So people ought to be asking themselves a question: Why is it he can send his wife out but he can’t go out?”

“There are a number of people who have a theory on that, not the least of which is he is a gaffe machine,” he added.

Palmer reminded listeners how Joe Biden’s struggles with gaffes go back decades.

“My first contact with Joe Biden was the very first work that I did in D.C. when I ran the think tank,” Palmer added. “That was Clarence Thomas’ confirmation hearing. And you may recall he had gone through controversy then … It is well known that he is surrounded in controversy and that he is a gaffe machine.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

13 hours ago

Alabama political leaders react to Kamala Harris as Biden’s choice for VP

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Tuesday selected U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) to be his running mate. Political leaders from both sides of the aisle in Alabama reacted to the news.

Harris served two terms as the attorney general of California before being elected to the Senate in 2016.

U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL), the Yellowhammer State’s most prominent Democrat and a longtime Biden ally, wrote “I know the power and energy of African-American women & the difference their hard work made in my race. Now we’ll make history by electing our first African-American woman VP & I’m so proud that person will be my friend and colleague ⁦Kamala Harris.”

469

Jerry Carl, a Mobile County commissioner and the Republican nominee in Alabama’s First Congressional District, was the first major member of the Alabama GOP to react.

“Did Sleepy Joe forget that only months ago Kamala Harris attacked him for his racist policies? Now he is handing over the reins of the Presidency to her and the radical left,” Carl’s campaign account tweeted shortly after the news broke.

“I am ELATED that my friend, colleague, & Sorority Sister Kamala Harris was chosen as Joe Biden’s running mate! Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are ready to take on the big fights and she’s already shown the courage and success to win big fights,” U.S. Representative Terri Sewell (AL-07) posted to Twitter on Tuesday afternoon.

Former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville, the Republican nominee to take on Jones in November, commented on the news via Twitter.

“It’s no surprise that Joe Biden has selected a Socialist Democrat like Kamala Harris as his VP pick. Harris is as far left as it gets, and my opponent, Doug Jones, stands side-by-side with her on almost every critical issue,” Tuberville’s campaign posted. “They have voted time and again for late-term abortion, gun-grabbing laws, open borders legislation, and other far-left agenda items. We must not let Socialists like Doug Jones or Kamala Harris take over our country!”

Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan released a statement, saying, “Joe Biden’s VP pick drags the Democrats’ ticket even further to the left.”

Lathan listed a number of liberal measures Harris has supported before adding, “We look forward to the clear contrast in policies in the Vice Presidential debate with Mike Pence and Senator Harris. It will be a true mirror of the obtuse plans the Democrats want for our nation.”

Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed, a Democrat, received Harris’ endorsement while he was campaigning for the office he now holds. He tweeted on Tuesday, “I like what I just heard” shortly after the news of Harris being chosen spread online.

“We are proud [Kamala Harris] has been selected to be Joe Biden’s VP. We look forward to helping her make history & make a difference over the next four years,” Reed added.

U.S. Representative Mike Rogers’ (AL-03) campaign account wrote, “Joe Biden’s radical lurch to the left just became even more extreme,” in response to the Harris news.

President Donald Trump was asked about Harris during a press conference at the White House on Tuesday afternoon.

“She’s a big tax raiser. She has a lot of things to explain,” he said in part.

Biden and Harris will take on President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in the general election this November.

Pence and Harris will debate at 8:00 p.m. CT on October 7.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

15 hours ago

Alabama Senate majority leader to SEC: Let them play

Alabama Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed (R-Jasper) sent a letter on Tuesday to Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey, advocating for the SEC to allow its member institutions to proceed with the 2020 college football season this fall.

The letter came the day that the Big 10 and Pac-12 decided to cancel their fall seasons. Of the Power 5 conferences, the SEC, ACC and Big 12 have yet to announce if they will play football this year.

To try saving the season, a player-led #WeWantToPlay movement has popped up in the past few days, quickly gaining momentum nationally.

347

University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban and other prominent leaders in the world of college football have advised that most players want to play, and that players will very likely be safer following enhanced safety protocols developed by their teams rather than being back at home or left to their own devices on campuses all fall.

For example, University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) head coach Bill Clark on Monday tweeted that his team had tested all 176 people in the school’s football building for COVID-19, with all tests returning negative.

“In addition to the [SEC]’s Medical Advisory Group providing a medical clearance for gameplay this fall, I have faith in the various health and safety guidelines being adopted by the Conference’s member institutions, who have themselves relied on the vast expertise of the medical professionals on their campuses and within their respective university systems,” Reed wrote to Sankey.

He added that on top of “the heightened health and safety protocols in intercollegiate athletics, each member institution has created health and safety guidelines campus-wide.”

“I have a tremendous amount of trust in the decision making of institutions such as the University of Alabama and Auburn University and wholeheartedly believe that every decision made by their respective administrations will prioritize the health and welfare of their students, faculty, and staff over all other considerations,” Reed continued.

“Member institutions and student-athletes have worked tirelessly to get back on the field this fall,” the senator said. “Depriving opportunities for student-athletes to succeed on the field will long lasting and potentially devastating consequences for their futures, with many student-athletes aspiring to compete professionally.”

Reed concluded by asking the SEC to “hear the calling of their member institutions and student-athletes and commit to competition this fall.”

You can read the full letter here.

Shortly after Reed sent his letter, the SEC via Twitter released a statement from Sankey.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

16 hours ago

Lawsuit challenging statewide mask order dismissed by judge

A Montgomery County Circuit judge on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit that sought to challenge the legality of Alabama’s statewide mask mandate.

The suit was brought by three Jackson County residents who thought the mask order, first ordered by Governor Kay Ivey in mid-July, was outside the bounds of what the government could put in place.

Seth Ashmore, the attorney handling the lawsuit, said on Tuesday his clients plan to appeal the ruling.

144

Judge Greg Griffin handled the case at the circuit court level and made the decision to dismiss the suit shortly after a hearing conducted on Tuesday afternoon.

Both Ivey and State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris, in their official capacities, were named as defendants in the suit.

The persons suing Ivey and Harris argued the mask mandate was “illegally adopted” and a “deprivation of liberty.”

Lawyers from the Alabama Attorney General’s office argued in their motion to dismiss the suit that the Alabama Emergency Management Act of 1955 gave the Governor “ample authority” to require the wearing of masks by individuals when they are in public.

Both the lawsuit and motion to dismiss have been made available to the public by Mike Cason, a reporter for Alabama Media Group.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95