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Retired teacher apologizes for racist remarks at Oklahoma City conference

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OKLAHOMA CITY - A retired teacher is apologizing for his racist remarks at an Oklahoma City conference.

Last week, Larry Long, a retired Elk City agriculture teacher, was being honored by his peers when he brought an African-American teacher up on stage and presented him with a white robe and a confederate flag, items commonly associated with the Ku Klux Klan.

After the conference, an anonymous letter about the incident was sent to several agencies, outlining the former educator's actions.

“Mr. Long was expected to make a few short comments, but instead rambled on for close to an hour and made several shocking statements…He made several derogatory comments about African-Americans, homosexuals, and women. Mr. Long is a product of the past and seemed to seize this as his last opportunity to let everyone know how he really feels about African-Americans and women in Agricultural teaching positions," the letter stated.

It goes on to say "He went so far as to present the gift of a KKK sheet and hood to one African-American in the room…He gave another teacher a gift of pig manure and made comments on how one person dressed gay…Most people in the room were in shock and offended by his comments and actions. Several got up and left."

So far, officials said they've only confirmed the KKK allegations with witnesses and are still looking into the other accusations.

On Thursday, Long issued a statement saying that the whole thing was meant as a "joke."

"I want to apologize for my actions at the Career Tech meeting on Aug. 2 in Oklahoma City. While there I attempted to make a joke with a colleague whom I respect and admire. I have apologized to him personally but that is not enough. I want to take this opportunity to apologize publicly and state that my conduct was highly inappropriate.

"I never intended to convey any racist actions or comments. I realize now that what I said and did was harmful, offensive and hurtful. I have always been committed to teaching students equality, fairness and justice. I am deeply sorry that my actions have brought these values into question.

"I have requested a meeting with the Oklahoma Legislative Black Caucus. It is my hope to work with them to ensure this incident will be used as a learning tool for other teachers. It is vitally important to recruit and retain more minorities into agriculture. I have nothing but the greatest respect for the Oklahoma Career Tech System and our minority teachers. I offer the public my deepest and sincerest apology for what happened and my behavior."

Elk City Public Schools will hold a meeting to possibly rename an ag building that was recently named after Long.