"I recognize that it will take time and serious effort to heal the damage this conduct has caused".
The protesters are calling for the resignation of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam after a decades-old photo with a blackface is unearthed in his school yearbook.
Before leaving for the service in Chilhowie, a small town in the state's rural southwest corner, Northam doubled down on his determination to stay in office, pledging to promote racial reconciliation in the remaining three years of his term.
Virginia "needs someone who is strong who has empathy, who has courage and who has a moral compass", Northam told CBS News on Sunday, in his first televised interview since the scandal broke.
Northam, a pediatric neurologist, said in an interview Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation" that he "wasn't going anywhere" and urged reconciliation.
Virginia Governir Ralph Northam and his wife Pam leave the funeral of fallen Virginia State Trooper Lucas B. Dowell on February 9 in Chilhowie, Virginia.
He said he had been in more hard situations in his medical career, and continued: "Right now, Virginia needs someone that can heal". "But he sacrificed so much of his ability to govern effectively".
"Lt. Governor Fairfax should have already resigned", he said in his statement. Northam has denied being either person in the photo, but he has said he wore blackface on a separate occasion.
Northam at first admitted he was in the picture, then denied it a day later, but acknowledged he once put shoe polish on his face to look like Michael Jackson for a dance contest in 1984. They have been more forgiving of Attorney General Mark Herring, largely because he came forward on his own to admit having performed in blackface at a 1980 college party, rather than waiting for someone else to accuse him.
Watson's allegations triggered an avalanche of calls by top officials in the Democratic Party, including presidential hopefuls Elizabeth Warren and Corey Booker, for their colleague to step down.
King interjects: "Also known as slavery". "And that's why I'm not going anywhere".
Democratic Party leaders have demanded that Fairfax resign, and one state lawmaker has said he'll start impeachment proceedings if that doesn't happen.
He's also calling for authorities, including the FBI, to investigate.
But Hope remained steadfast in his calls for Fairfax to resign following the allegations raised on Friday by a second woman who claims Fairfax sexually assaulted her. Hope said he was "absolutely horrified" by the accusations and said he believes "both of these courageous women".
"I have learned from this, I have a lot more to learn, but we're in a unique opportunity now - again, the 400-year anniversary of the history, whether it be good or bad, in Virginia - to really make some impactful changes". "There are still some very deep wounds in Virginia, and especially in the area of equity".
The "indentured servant" remark is the governor's latest misstep in a blackface scandal that has shaken Virginia to its foundation.
Hope, the white Democratic lawmaker who had called for Fairfax's impeachment, renewed his call for the lieutenant governor to resign while saying he was discussing whether impeachment was the best solution.
The NAACP's position is for Northam to resign immediately, a stance shared by the state assembly's powerful Black Caucus.