One of the two North Texas men who were expelled from the University of Oklahoma after they were caught on video singing a racist chant spoke publicly for the first time Wednesday afternoon.
The former students, Levi Pettit and Parker Rice, were both kicked out of the university after the video surfaced earlier this month. Pettit spoke in front of the cameras on Wednesday.
"Although I don't deserve it, I want to ask for your forgiveness," Pettit said.
With several black community leaders and pastors by his side at Wednesday's news conference, Pettit said he was deeply sorry for the pain his actions caused.
"Some have wondered why I hadn't spoken out publicly. The truth is I have had a mix of pain, shame, sorrow and fear over the consequences of my actions," said Pettit. "I did not want to apologize to the press or to the whole country until I first came to apologize to those most directly impacted."
Pettit said moving forward, he hopes to find a positive outcome from his mistake and try to make amends. He also said that if he ever witnesses any racism in the future, he now has the courage stand up to that kind of behavior.
Pettit would not go into detail about how he learned the racist chant, but said that the words in it shouldn't be repeated.
After Pettit spoke, Sen. Pittman said that students need to learn more about African American history in schools.
Prior to Pettit speaking, Pittman said she had arranged for Pettit to meet with black students, elected officials, local pastors and civil rights leaders in Oklahoma.
Pettit's parents, who live in the Dallas area, issued an apology on his behalf two weeks ago after the video's release caused an uproar on the university's campus in Norman, which is located about 20 miles south of Oklahoma City. Rice also issued a statement apologizing for his role in the chant.
The Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity that Pettit and Rice were members of was also shut down following the release of the video.
Stephen Jones, an attorney for the now-disbanded local fraternity, said Wednesday that an agreement has been reached with the university that calls for no members of the fraternity to be expelled. Jones declined to comment further about the details of the agreement, and OU officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the deal.
OU President David Boren severed ties with the fraternity, ordered its members to vacate the fraternity house and expelled two students for leading the chant. The university also launched an investigation into the role other fraternity members may have had in the chant, and Boren says further disciplinary action is possible.