The former University of Oklahoma student featured in a racist chant that was captured on video is making his first public remarks since the incident sparked national headlines.
Levi Pettit, a Highland Park High School grad, says he's deeply sorry for his role in the incident and "upset and embarrassed" that he failed to stop it.
Surrounded by several black leaders, Pettit publicly apologized Wednesday during a brief news conference. It followed a meeting he had at an Oklahoma City Baptist church with civil rights activists, pastors and elected officials.
Pettit answered a few questions from reporters but declined to say who taught him the chant or where he learned it.
Pettit and several other members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity at OU were caught on video engaging in the chant that referenced lynching and used a racial slur to describe how African-Americans would never become members.
'There are no excuses'
Here are excerpts of Pettit's remarks:
I’m sorry, deeply sorry. I’m so sorry for all of the pain I have caused.
I want to ask you for your forgiveness. There are no excuses for my behavior.
I never thought of myself as a racist. But the bottom line is the words that were said in that chant were mean, hateful and racist. I will be deeply sorry and deeply ashamed of what I have done for the rest of my life.
Some have wondered why I haven’t spoken out publicly. I’ve had a mix of pain, shame, sorrow and fear over the consequences of my actions. …
Over the past week of so I’ve met with a number of pastors and leaders to seek understanding of the meaning of the words that I spoke from on that bus. Meeting with a few people does not change what I did but it has begun to change me and my understanding of those hateful words.
My words on that bus were disgusting and these words should never be repeated under any circumstance.
I’m embarrassed that I failed to stand up as a leader and stop this chant.
— CBSN (@CBSNLive) March 25, 2015