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Winner of the 2023 Virginia Literary Award in Nonfiction, awarded by the Library of Virginia
The transformation of Governor Ralph Northam
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam's "blackface scandal" could have destroyed any politician. The photo of Governor Northam purportedly in blackface created a firestorm not only locally but also in every political sphere. What the Eyes Can't See details why Northam's career did not end with the scandal, and how it made him a better governor--and a better citizen.
In this book Margaret Edds draws on unprecedented access to the governor, his aides, and members of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, whose initial anger evolved into determination to mine good from an ugly episode. Both scolding and encouraging, they led Northam to a deeper understanding of the racism and pain the photograph symbolized. To Northam's credit, he listened, and more importantly learned the lessons of endemic, systemic racism and applied those lessons to his legislative agenda. Edds provides a revealing examination of race in the nation, how racism might be addressed and reckoned with, and how we all may find a measure of redemption in listening to one another.