In the latest news of photos surfacing that link political figures to blackface, Mississippi Today reports that images have emerged of state attorney general candidate Andy Taggart taking part in a skit that features blackface in a 1979 Mississippi College yearbook photo.
In the photo, two people are shown wearing blackface while Taggart and three other white males are dressed as cowboys sitting at a table. A caption indicates the skit is based on the television show Gunsmoke.
When questioned about the image, Taggart, a Republican, told the news organization that he doesn’t remember the skit or the photo. He did say, though, that he understands that wearing blackface — seen as open derision of people of color — is not an acceptable thing to do.
“The use of blackface is clearly offensive to lots of people,” Taggart told Mississippi Today. “It’s not appropriate and I am sorry that I was portrayed in that way.”
Taggart’s photo was taken during a rush event for one of Mississippi College’s “tribes,” which serve the same purpose as Greek-letter organizations.
Blackface has been playing a big role in Mississippi campaign politics lately.
In February, a photo surfaced of members of a Millsaps College fraternity with painted faces, one wearing dark paint and the pattern of the Confederate emblem. The image dates to the early 1990s, when Republican gubernatorial candidate and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves was a member of the fraternity.
The same week, photos surfaced of members of a University of Mississippi fraternity wearing blackface, sporting necklaces and holding sticks in the 1980s, at the same time Democratic gubernatorial candidate and Attorney General Jim Hood was a member, Mississippi Today reports.
The news organization did its own study of blackface photos of political figures in the state. What Mississippi Today found was dozens of images of women dressed as mammies, students wearing Ku Klux Klan robes and others wearing blackface in a review of higher education yearbooks dating back to the 1960s.
*(Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story misstated that Andy Taggart was wearing blackface.)