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The Trail

Alaska House candidate wore blackface to Halloween party in 2012

Mike Cronk, a Republican candidate from Tok running to represent Alaska’s House District 6, wore blackface during a 2012 Halloween party, according to photos published by KTUU-TV on Thursday.

The pictures were provided by an anonymous source to the TV station. Cronk told the station and a conservative blog that he dressed as Madea — a Southern black female character created by actor-comedian Tyler Perry — during a party that invited attendees to come dressed as an inspiring fictional character.

The party was in Tok, and at the time, Cronk was a teacher at the Tok School.

He did not immediately respond to an email or phone calls seeking additional comment and clarification.

At the time, Taryn Hughes was a librarian at Tok School and was at the party.

“This happened. I can confirm it happened,” she said.

Now a Democratic candidate for House District 5 in Fairbanks, Hughes said she wishes she had spoken up. At the party, she posed for pictures with Cronk, as did others.

“At the time, I don’t think any of us were in a position or place in our lives where we understood how deeply racist it was to not speak up,” she said.

Blackface originated in the 19th century as a way for white actors to stereotype black Americans. The practice has persisted despite its racist origins, and notable politicians — including Virginia’s Democratic governor and the prime minister of Canada — have been criticized for previously dressing in blackface.

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