Feb. 11 (UPI) -- The Bachelor host Chris Harrison has apologized for his remarks in a recent interview that "perpetuates racism."
The 49-year-old television personality apologized Wednesday after defending The Bachelor contestant Rachael Kirkconnell amid reports of her past racist behavior.
Kirkconnell is a contestant in The Bachelor Season 25 starring Matt James, the first Black Bachelor. Photos of Kirkconnell at an antebellum plantation-themed fraternity formal and other racially insensitive posts have resurfaced online since the season's premiere.
While speaking to former Bachelorette star Rachel Lindsay on Extra this week, Harrison took issue with the "woke police" criticizing Kirkconnell, whom he said has been "thrown to the lions."
"We all need to have a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion," he said.
In a post Wednesday, Harrison issued "a sincere apology" for his comments.
"To my Bachelor Nation family -- I will always own a mistake when I make one, so I am here to extend a sincere apology. I have this incredible platform to speak about love, and yesterday I took a stance on topics which I should have been better informed," the star said.
"While I do not speak for Rachael Kirkconnell, my intentions were simply to ask for grace in offering her an opportunity to speak on her own behalf," he added. "What I now realize I have done is cause harm by wrongly speaking in a manner that perpetuates racism, and for that I am so deeply sorry."
Nearly 20,000 people have signed a petition to remove Harrison from the Bachelor franchise in the wake of his remarks.
The Bachelor Season 25 premiered in January.