If you haven’t followed the recent imbroglio, here’s a refresher: In February, photos surfaced of current Bachelor contestant Rachael Kirkconnell attending a 2018 Antebellum party, a gathering that romanticizes the pre-Civil War South and reinforces racist stereotypes from that time. While many criticized Kirkconnell’s behavior, Harrison defended her in an Extra interview with Rachel Lindsay — The Bachelorette‘s first-ever Black lead — and denounced the “cancel culture” that he felt had targeted her.
Harrison later apologized for “wrongly speaking in a manner that perpetuates racism” and opted to take “a period of time” away from ABC’s dating series in order to better educate himself. And though his long-term future with the franchise is still TBD, he’ll be sitting out the upcoming After the Final Rose finale special on March 15, with former NFL player Emmanuel Acho filling in as host instead.
In a Good Morning America interview with Michael Strahan on Thursday, Harrison once again fessed up to his mistakes. “I am an imperfect man,” he said. “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 the progress — not just for myself, but also for the franchise.”
Asked about his use of the term “woke police” during his initial interview with Lindsay, Harrison said, “I am saddened and shocked at how insensitive I was… And I didn’t speak from my heart, and that is to say I stand against all forms of racism, and I am deeply sorry. I am sorry to Rachel Lindsay, and I am sorry to the Black community.”
Harrison confirmed that he has spoken to Lindsay since his appearance on Extra, but not in the wake of the intense, targeted harassment she has faced that has forced her to deactivate her Instagram account. “To anyone who is throwing hate towards Rachel Lindsay, please stop,” he said. “It is unacceptable.”
Strahan went on to ask Harrison if he thinks the reaction he’s received for the Extra interview has been fair. “I am not a victim here,” he answered. “I made a mistake and I own that. Racism, oppression… these are big, dynamic problems, and they take serious work. I am committed to that work.”
Harrison told GMA that he was working with a race educator and strategist, along with faith leaders and scholars like Georgetown University sociology professor Dr. Michael Eric Dyson.
“Dr. Dyson often talks to me about ‘council, not cancel,'” Harrison explained. “That is full accountability: Understanding what you didn’t understand, owning that, learning from that… Seeking council, often in the community that you hurt and learning from them, listening to them, gaining experience [and] knowledge and moving forward.”
Last but not least, Strahan asked Harrison if he was the right person to lead the Bachelor franchise into the future. Rather than give Strahan a direct “yes” or “no,” Harrison answered, “I plan to be back, and I want to be back. 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.”
After the Q&A, Strahan offered viewers his own take on Harrison’s response to the controversy. “His apology is his apology, but it felt like I got nothing more than a surface response on any of this,” Strahan said. “Obviously, he is a man who wants to clearly stay on the show, but only time will tell if there is any meaning behind his words.”
Watch Harrison’s full GMA interview below: