Gov. Kay Ivey is apologizing for being involved in a racist skit when she was an Auburn student after audio from the 1960s emerged Thursday of Ivey’s then-fiance describing her being in blackface.
The Plainsman in February reported that Ivey’s sorority yearbook page had photos of a blackface skit from her senior year. A spokesperson said Ivey did not know about the page at the time and was not in the photos. It's not known if this is the same skit referred to in the audio.
Ivey was president of her Alpha Gamma Delta pledge class at Auburn.
The recording contained the following:
“As I look at my fiance across the room, I can see her that night, she had on a pair of blue cover-alls, and she had put some black paint all over her face and she was … acting out this skit called cigar butts,” said Ben LaRavia, Ivey's then-fiance.
LaVaria goes on to explain how Ivey’s role in the skit didn't “require a lot of talent,” and that Ivey would “crawl around on the floor looking for cigar butts.”
“Well that was just my role for the evening,” Ivey said.
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Ivey on Thursday issued the following statement:
“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.”
Below is a statement from Auburn University's Office of Communication and Marketing:
"There was a time at Auburn, and in this nation generally, when racial caricature was tolerated. It was wrong then and it is wrong today. Auburn strives to ensure an inclusive and equitable working, living and learning environment for all members of the Auburn family. We work every day to ensure full compliance with both the letter and intent of federal and state laws in the areas of equal opportunity, affirmative action, harassment and discrimination."
Auburn University Interim President Jay Gogue released the following statement to The Plainsman:
“Governor Ivey expressed heartfelt regret. We agree that it isn’t representative of her, nor is it representative of Auburn.”
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