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At least four black faculty and staff members at Liberty University have resigned in protest after the evangelical college’s president, Jerry Falwell Jr., tweeted an image of a face mask with a picture from Virginia governor Ralph Northam’s medical school yearbook that shows two men, one of whom may be Northam, wearing blackface and Ku Klux Klan robes, respectively, The New York Times reported. In the May 27 tweet, Falwell -- an ardent supporter of President Trump -- said he was opposed to Northam’s order to wear masks until he designed his own, which bore the picture in question.

“If I am ordered to wear a mask, I will reluctantly comply, but only if this picture of Governor Blackface himself is on it!” Falwell tweeted.

Among those who have resigned in protest are Quan McLaurin, Liberty’s director of diversity retention, and Keyvon Scott, an online admissions counselor.

A group of 36 prominent African American alumni, including NFL players, signed an open letter calling for Falwell to resign from Liberty. The letter was converted into a petition on that has more than 37,000 signatures.

Falwell apologized for and deleted the tweet. "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," he said.