Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood "did all kinds of stupid things in college," but he is "sure" wearing blackface is not one of them, he told a crowd in Jackson on Monday.
The topic, which media raised at a Stennis Institute luncheon, comes after several news outlets reported a photo from a party in the early 1980s in which members of Hood's fraternity at the University of Mississippi appear with their bodies and faces painted black. White markings on the men's faces appear to mimic African tribal face paint.
Hood is not listed among the members on the the Pi Kappa Alpha page where the photo appears in the 1983 yearbook.
"I saw the picture that they put in the paper," the Democratic candidate for governor said. "I thought it was a Kiss concert where they had their faces and bodies painted."
Hood said he did not know what the party was, or if he was even still at UM at the time the photo was taken, but said he is not in it. In fall 1983, he took a job in the oil and gas industry and was not a student at UM, he said. He never would have painted his face regardless, he said.
"When I go hunting, I don't even like to wear a mask," Hood said.
On Friday, one of Hood's Republican opponents in the race for governor, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, came under scrutiny after state media published photos showing members of his own college fraternity, Kappa Alpha Order, wearing blackface. Right next to the page where the offensive photos appeared in the 1993 Millsaps College yearbook, Reeves' headshot is among those of his fellow Kappa Alphas.
The Jackson Free Press also unearthed a photo of members of Reeves' fraternity wearing blackface in a 1993 issue of the Purple and White, the