Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Jerry Falwell Jr. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

At least four Black staff members and four Black athletes have left the evangelical Liberty University in Virginia following a tweet by university president Jerry Falwell Jr. that mocked Gov. Ralph Northam's blackface scandal, AP reports.

Why it matters: Falwell, an ally of President Trump, has drawn criticism for his political positions in the past, including his decision to bring students back to campus in March despite the threat of the coronavirus. But people involved with the university "have become more willing to openly criticize the university’s approach to race and diversity" in recent weeks, according to AP.

  • The news comes amid a national conversation about the legacy of racism in America, spurred by the killing of George Floyd.

The backdrop: In a now-deleted tweet from late May, Falwell wrote that he opposed Northam's mandate for Virginians to wear masks “until I decided to design my own.” Attached to the tweet was a picture of a mask bearing a photo of someone wearing blackface that appeared on Northam’s medical yearbook page, made public last year.

  • 35 of the school's Black alumni denounced Falwell and suggested he step down in a letter sent to him days after the incident, AP reported in early June.
  • Falwell apologized for the tweet a week later: “When I was swinging at the governor, I inadvertently hit some people that love me ... the Liberty African American community.”

The big picture: The percentage of Black students who make up Liberty's resident undergraduate classes dropped from 13% in 2007 to just 5% in 2019, according to internal documents obtained by AP.

  • The people who are leaving the university include a diversity retention director, one basketball player and three football players.

Go deeper

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam tests positive for coronavirus

Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) and his wife, Pamela, both tested positive for coronavirus, his office announced on Friday.

The state of play: The Northams were tested after one of their staff "who works closely within the couple's living quarters" tested positive. The governor is asymptomatic, while his wife is "experiencing mild symptoms." They plan to isolate at home for 10 days.

Biden Cabinet confirmation schedule: When to watch hearings

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on Jan. 16 in Wilmington, Delaware. Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

The first hearings for President-elect Joe Biden's Cabinet nominations begin on Tuesday, with testimony from his picks to lead the departments of State, Homeland and Defense.

Why it matters: It's been a slow start for a process that usually takes place days or weeks earlier for incoming presidents. The first slate of nominees will appear on Tuesday before a Republican-controlled Senate, but that will change once the new Democratic senators-elect from Georgia are sworn in.

Kamala Harris resigns from Senate seat ahead of inauguration

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Photo: Mason Trinca/Getty Images

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris submitted her resignation from her seat in the U.S. Senate on Monday, two days before she will be sworn into her new role.

What's next: California Gov. Gavin Newsom has selected California Secretary of State Alex Padilla to serve out the rest of Harris' term, which ends in 2022.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

Sign up for Mike Allen’s daily Axios AM and PM newsletters to get smarter, faster on the news that matters.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!