MONTGOMERY — Gov. Kay Ivey is apologizing for participating in a blackface college skit after being made aware of a decades-old radio interview of Ivey and her then-fiancé discussing the event.
The governor said that even after listening to the tape, she does not recall the skit or the interview itself, but would 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,” Ivey said in a statement Thursday. “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.”
The recording, soon to be released as part of an Auburn University Libraries historical audio project, includes an interview with Ivey and her then-fiancé Ben LaRavia describing a skit involving black paint on her face. The couple was asked about their “most hilarious” memories from Baptist Student Union’s skit night.
“As I look at my fiancé across the room, I can see her that night. She had on a pair of blue coveralls, she had put some black paint all over her face, and we were acting out this skit called ‘Cigar Butts.' ”
“It did not require a lot of talent as far as verbal talent, but it did involve a lot of physical acting such as crawling around the floor looking for cigar butts and things like this, which certainly got a big reaction from the audience.”
Asked by the interviewer if she’d like to “defend herself” from her fiancé’s characterization, Ivey laughingly says, “that was just my role for the evening,” before quickly changing to another memory from that evening.
“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,” Ivey said Thursday.
In February, The Auburn Plainsman published photos from the 1967 Glomerata yearbook showing members of Ivey’s Alpha Gamma Delta sorority dressed in blackface performing a skit. Ivey was not pictured, and her spokesman at the time said she did not participate in sorority functions at the time due to her student government leadership roles.