Chris Harrison says he plans to return to the “Bachelor” franchise following his controversial comments about current contestant Rachael Kirkconnell’s past racist social media posts.
In an interview with “Good Morning America” co-host Michael Strahan on Thursday, Harrison spoke out about the February 9 controversy where he told Rachel Lindsay, a current host on “Extra” and the only Black Bachelorette in the series’ history, that people should give Kirkconnell some “grace” for her “liking” a photo containing a Confederate flag and attending an “Old South” plantation-themed party in 2018.
“It was a mistake. I made a mistake. I am an imperfect man, I made a mistake, and I own that,” Harrison began.
“I believe that mistake doesn’t reflect who I am or what I stand for. I am committed to progress, not just for myself, also for the franchise. And this is a franchise that has been a part of my life for the better part of 20 years and I love it.”
EXCLUSIVE: “It was a mistake.” #TheBachelor host Chris Harrison apologizes for defending frontrunner Rachael Kirkconnell’s past racist social media posts, telling @michaelstrahan he is an “imperfect man” who is “committed to progress.” https://t.co/OfPBBzGd9s pic.twitter.com/0EgbKV99DV— Good Morning America (@GMA) March 4, 2021
After Harrison first apologized on February 10, he apologized again days later and said he would be “stepping aside” from the franchise for an unspecified amount of time. It was later announced that Emmanuel Acho would be replacing him for the “After the Final Rose” special.
Kirkconnell has also issued an apology and asked those defending her actions to “please stop.”
In his virtual sit-down with Strahan, Harrison walked back his previous statements and declared, “Antebellum parties are not OK, past, present, future. Knowing what that represents is unacceptable.”
Harrison also says he has since apologized to Lindsay and denounces the harassment and bullying she has received, which resulted in her deactivating her Instagram account.
“I am saddened and shocked at how insensitive I was in that interview with Rachel Lindsay. I can’t believe I didn’t speak against antebellum parties, what they stand for,” he continued, adding, “And I didn’t speak from my heart. And that is to say that I stand against all forms of racism, and I am deeply sorry to Rachel Lindsay and to the Black community.
“To anyone who is throwing hate towards Rachel Lindsay, please stop. It’s unacceptable.”
Since the controversy, Harrison says he has sought guidance from a number of people, including “a race educator and strategist.”
“I sought out leading scholars, teachers, faith leaders, people like Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, who I am so grateful for, and I’ve also been working closely with a race educator and strategist. I thank them all,” he said.
“But Dr. Dyson often talks to me about counsel, not cancel, and that is full accountability, understanding what you didn’t understand, owning that, learning from that, seeking counsel often in the community that you hurt, learning from them, listening, gaining experience, knowledge and moving forward.”
As for his future with the “Bachelor” franchise, Harrison says he hopes to return.
“I plan to be back and I want to be back. And I think this franchise can be an important beacon of change,” he said. “I know that change is felt not just by me but by many others. And we are excited and willing to do the work to show that progress.
“This interview is not the finish line,” he added. “There is much more work to be done. And I am excited to be a part of that change.”