President of Liberty University, Jerry Falwell Jr, has apologised for a tweet making light of a blackface controversy involving Virginia's Governor, Ralph Northam.
In his now deleted tweet, Falwell rejected the governor's statewide order for citizens to wear facemasks by tweeting a picture of a mask with a picture of Northam wearing blackface emblazoned across the front.
"I was adamantly opposed to the mandate from @GovernorVA requiring citizens to wear face masks until I decided to design my own," Falwell wrote in jest. "If I am ordered to wear a mask, I will reluctantly comply, but only if this picture of Governor Blackface himself is on it!"
In response, a group of 35 black alumni from Liberty University urged Falwell — a long-time supporter of Donald Trump — to stop his "infantile behavior."
They added: "While your tweet may have been in jest about Virginia’s Governor, it made light of our nation’s painful history of slavery and racism.”
According to the Washington Post, at least three African American Liberty staffers resigned following Falwell’s tweet.
After initially refusing to take down the post, Falwell changed his tune on Monday by removing the tweet and apologising for any hurt caused.
"After listening to African American LU leaders and alumni over the past week and hearing their concerns, I understand that by tweeting an image to remind all of the governor’s racist past I actually refreshed the trauma that image had caused and offended some by using the image to make a political point.
“Based on our long relationships, they uniformly understood this was not my intent, but because it was the result…I have deleted the tweet and apologise for any hurt my effort caused, especially within the African American community.”