Joe W. Dillard Jr., a 32-year-old former N.A.A.C.P. chief in Norfolk, agreed with the characterization of a generational break up: “The youthful era wished the moment gratification of him leaving. However they knew he wasn’t leaving, so both demand some issues to get or we stand on the sidelines and cry over spilled milk.”

Ms. Worth, who represents closely Black areas together with Hampton and Newport Information, mentioned that when she returned to her district, it was clear to her that Black constituents have been extra divided on the scandal than the nationwide outcry may recommend. Some wished Mr. Northam to go, she mentioned, however many have been additionally so conversant in racism within the outdated Accomplice South that they didn’t discover his attainable actions disqualifying.

She additionally sensed alternative.

“With people which have privilege, it’s normally when that privilege is put into jeopardy, or referred to as out, that the educational begins,” she mentioned.

“There have been folks calling me which have solely spent a weekend at Virginia Seaside, telling me what I ought to do for my constituents,” Ms. Worth mentioned. “However my lived expertise reveals me that I’ve to be strategic.”

If the Ralph Northam of in the present day seems like somebody who has simply accomplished a studying checklist of fashionable anti-racist literature, it’s as a result of he has. He invokes the e-book “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo and “Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack,” the 1989 essay about white privilege. He says he was profoundly modified by the documentary “13th,” which focuses on racial bias within the prison justice system.

“I don’t wish to make excuses, however after I was in faculty, I wished to go to medical college,” mentioned Mr. Northam, who was a medical physician earlier than coming into politics. “And I’ve been immersed since that point in biology and chemistry.” He went on: “Maybe I ought to have spent extra time wanting into our historical past, however once more, I didn’t. However I’m very fascinated about historical past now.”