US & Canada

Racist chant Oklahoma student 'deeply sorry'

State Senator Anastasia Pittman standing beside Levi Pettit at the press conference Image copyright AP
Image caption State Senator Anastasia Pittman said she believed Mr Pettit's apology was genuine

A university student who led a videotaped racist chant that caused a national uproar has apologised.

The former University of Oklahoma fraternity member, Levi Pettit, said he was upset and embarrassed over it.

Following a meeting with civic leaders, Mr Pettit publicly apologised and said he had been silent until now because of "pain, shame, sorrow and fear".

The chant referred to lynching and used a racial slur to say African-Americans would never become fraternity members.

"I did not want to apologise to the press or to the whole country until I first came to apologise to those most directly impacted," he said.

Pettit took a few questions from reporters but would not say where he learned the chant or who taught it to him.

Image copyright AP
Image caption The apology followed a meeting with local black civic leaders in Oklahoma City

The meeting between Mr Pettit and several black community leaders before the press conference was coordinated by Oklahoma state Senator Anastasia Pittman, who said she believes the apology was genuine.

"I admire his courage of reaching to me and saying: 'I want to meet with you face to face and apologise to your directly,'" Sen Pittman said.

The video, which was posted online by a black student group, caused a national outcry and led the university's administrators to expel two students who led the singing of the chant.

The incident has drawn unwelcome attention to fraternities across the US, many of which have come under fire for allegations of sexual abuse and racism in recent weeks.

Fraternities are social organisations that college students, usually male, are given the option to join at many universities across the US. Sororities are a similar option for female students.

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