Former EVMS yearbook staff member explains how picture on Gov. Northam’s page was published

Posted at 5:54 PM, Feb 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-04 18:30:21-05

NORFOLK, Va. - A former yearbook staff member from Eastern Virginia Medical School provided insight about how a picture like the one of Governor Northam's page was able to be published in the first place.

The picture shows two people dressed up. One of the men is in blackface, while the other person is dressed up like a member of the KKK. The picture appears on Northam's page in the 1984 EVMS yearbook.

Photo taken by News 3 reporter Brendan Ponton

William Elwood was in the same graduating class as Northam and was a member of the yearbook staff. Elwood says students were able to submit a minimum of three pictures for their page.

There were guidelines, according to Elwood. He says pictures for the yearbook could not have nudity in them and could not show violence.

"If this is what the person wants on their page, so be it," explained Elwood from his home near Charlottesville. "As long as it wasn’t, ya know, go outside the guidelines that were given."

Elwood says no EVMS staff were involved in the editing of the yearbook. He says it was run by students and that a number of students created the layout for each page.

During a press conference with Northam this past weekend, the governor said he believed the picture was put on the wrong page. Elwood says that is unlikely.

"We were very careful. The envelopes came to us sealed," explained Elwood. "The envelopes were only opened to do the layout and then put back. Then they were sent back to the student they belonged to. All of the yearbook stuff was under lock and key."

Once the pages were created, they were sent to Hunter Publishing Company in North Carolina. The company is no longer in business.

EVMS has released several statements about the picture on Northam's yearbook page. They will be holding a press conference Tuesday afternoon to further discuss their investigation.

For full coverage on Gov. Northam's yearbook photo controversy, click here.