A former University of Oklahoma student who led a racist chant that caused uproar after being posted online apologized to the leader of the Oklahoma Legislative Black Caucus and plans to meet with more civic leaders before speaking publicly about the incident for the first time, state Sen. Anastasia Pittman said Wednesday.
Pittman, an Oklahoma City Democrat, said the student, Levi Pettit, called her to apologize for the incident, in which he and another fraternity member were caught on video earlier this month leading a chant that referred to lynching and used a racial slur to say black students would never be admitted to the university's Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter.
She said she has arranged for Pettit to meet with black students, elected officials, local pastors and civil rights leaders in Oklahoma. "I wanted him to be educated on some of the struggles they've endured," she said. "I think that will enlighten him and give him a new perspective on a culture that he is completely unaware of."
Among those scheduled to attend the private meeting is Marilyn Luper-Hildreth, the daughter of the late civil rights leader Clara Luper, an Oklahoma City schoolteacher who led sit-ins at segregated Oklahoma City drugstore counters in the late 1950s.
After the meeting, Pittman said Pettit also will speak at an afternoon press conference at a Baptist church on the city's predominantly black northeast side.
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 about 20 miles south of Oklahoma City. A second student from the Dallas area, Parker Rice, also issued a statement apologizing for his role in the chant.
OU President David Boren severed the school's ties with the fraternity, ordered its members to vacate the fraternity house and expelled Pettit and Rice. The university launched an investigation into the role other fraternity members may have had in the chant, and Boren says further disciplinary action is possible.
The national Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity disbanded its OU chapter and announced it is taking steps to become more inclusive, including requiring all its members nationwide to go through diversity training and setting up a confidential hotline for people to report inappropriate behavior.
Boren planned to meet later Wednesday with student leaders of the university's fraternity and sorority system to discuss race relations and students' reactions to the incident.
The Associated Press