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Governor admits to blackface incident, offers apology

An audio tape over 50 years ago shows that as an Auburn student Gov. Kay Ivey attended a party dressed in blackface.

“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,” said Ivey in a press statement.

“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.”

Transcript: Ben LaRavia, “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, 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 this skit didn’t require a lot of talent as far as verbal talent but is did require a lot of physical talent 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.”

Transcript: Kay Ivey, “Well, that was just my role for the evening. I’ll tell you another funny thing that happened, it was around the end of the show, the judges were retired and Tom Malloy who was directing it told us we’ve got about 5 minutes, just go tell about three jokes and the judges will be ready and that will be fine so Ben had two and I had two so we went out there and began to tell our jokes and Ben told his and Kate why don’t you tell yours…I couldn’t think of the joke.”

Ivey even though not recalling the event or interview, addresses the incident head-on rather than fighting back or trying to cover up.

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

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Ivey ended her comment by offering an apology in writing as well as a videotape.

“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.”


Bill Britt is editor-in-chief at the Alabama Political Reporter and host of The Voice of Alabama Politics. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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