Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam apologizes for the “racist and offensive” photo in his 1984 medical school year book: “I am deeply sorry for the decision I made to appear as I did in this photo.”

Northam said in a statement: “Earlier today a website published a photograph of me from my 1984 medical school year book in a costume that is clearly racist and offensive.”

“I am deeply sorry for the decision I made to appear as I did in this photo and for the hurt that decision caused then and now,” Northam writes. “This behavior is not in keeping with who I am today and the values I have fought for throughout my career in the military, in medicine and in public service.”

“But I want to be clear, I understand how this decisions shakes Virginians’ faith in that commitment,” Northam said. “I recognize that it will take time and serious effort to heal the damage this conduct has caused.”

“I am ready to do that important work.” “The first step is to offer my sincerest apology and to state my absolute commitment to living up to the expectations Virginians set for me when they elected me to be their governor,” he concludes.

Separately, CBS News “uncovered a page from Northam’s yearbook at the Virginia Military Institute which had nicknames listed underneath his name. One of them was “Coonman,” a racial slur.”

Many are calling on Northam to step down and allow Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax to assume his position. MoveOn.org tweeted: “If Ralph Northam is one of the two people pictured in the highly disturbing, horrific photo wearing either blackface or a KKK hood — of if he selected or approved its use on his yearbook page — he should immediately resign. There are no excuses for such a racist display.”

Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro called on Northam to resign: “It doesn’t matter if he is a Republican or a Democrat. This behavior was racist and unconscionable. Governor Northam should resign.”

More reaction from Democrats on Twitter: