Chris Harrison is breaking his silence after he stepped away from The Bachelor franchise last month embroiled in a racial controversy. Speaking to Good Morning America, Harrison told Michael Strahan, "I am an imperfect man, I made a mistake and I own that. 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."
Harrison also walked back comments he previously made when he defended an "Old South" party Kirkconnell went to in 2018. When Strahan pressed him if there's a difference between the photos being OK in 2018 or 2021 — which is what Harrison implied last month — he said, "There is not. Antebellum parties are not OK. Past, present, future, knowing what that represents is unacceptable."
Last month, Harrison defended current Bachelor contestant Rachael Kirkconnell, whose past social media activity showed her "liking" a photo containing a Confederate flag and attending an "Old South" plantation-themed party in 2018. Harrison told former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay in a Feb. 9 interview on Extra that Kirkconnell should be given some "grace" and implied that she was a victim of "cancel culture."
"People are just tearing this girl's life apart. I'm like, 'Really?'" Harrison said in his controversial comments last month. When Lindsay said that Kirkconnell's 2018 photos at the antebellum party weren't a good look, Harrison replied, "Well, Rachel, is it a good look in 2018, or is it not a good look in 2021? Because there's a big difference."
Lindsay replied that it should not have been a good look at any point in time "because she's celebrating the Old South. If I went to that party, what would I represent at that party?"
Harrison said Thursday that he has apologized to Lindsay, who has been a target of intense online bullying and harassment and who has deactivated her Instagram account as a result. "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," Harrison said. "I didn't say it then and I want to say it now: those parties are not OK, past, present, future. 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."
He also asked anyone who is "throwing hate" toward Lindsay to "please stop," calling it "unacceptable." He said he has been seeking guidance since the controversy began. "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," Harrison said. "But Dr. Dyson often talks to me about council. 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."
The longtime Bachelor host said he "plans to be back" and "wants to be back." He said he thinks The Bachelor franchise "can be an important beacon of change. 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. There is much more work to be done. And I am excited to be a part of that change."