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Former contestants to replace Chris Harrison as hosts for "The Bachelorette" amid racism controversy

"The Bachelor" franchise announced Friday that the longtime host of the show, Chris Harrison, will not be a part of the upcoming season of ABC's "The Bachelorette." In his absence, former Bachelorettes Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bowers will take his place. 

The announcement comes after Harrison controversially defended current "Bachelor" contestant Rachael Kirkconnell for past racially insensitive behavior.

Warner Horizon and ABC Entertainment tweeted a statement late Friday saying, "Chris Harrison will not be hosting the next season of 'The Bachelorette.'"

"As we continue the dialogue around achieving greater equity and inclusion within 'The Bachelor' franchise, we are dedicated to improving the BIPOC representation of our crew, concluding among the executive producer ranks," it said. "These are important steps in effecting fundamental change so that our franchise is a celebration of love that is reflective of our world."

Adams was the second Bachelorette in season 16 after Clare Crawley chose to leave the show after getting engaged to Dale Moss. Bristowe was the Bachelorette for season 19.

Harrison faced backlash after defending a contestant who has been accused of racist behavior during an interview with Rachel Lindsay, the franchise's first Black female lead. The controversy started after photos of Rachael Kirkconnell, a contestant on this season of "The Bachelor," attending an antebellum-themed party in 2018 surfaced online. 

Lindsay refused to renew her contract with the franchise following Harrison's comments.

Harrison took to Instagram to apologize for his actions to the Black and BIPOC community. "My words were harmful," he said. "I am listening, and I truly apologize for my ignorance and any pain it caused you. I want to give my heartfelt thanks to the people from these communities who I've had enlightening conversations with over the past few days, and I am so grateful to those who have reached out to help me on my path to anti-racism."

After apologizing for his racially insensitive comments, Harrison disclosed via social media that he was "stepping aside"temporarily from the franchise and would not be the host for the "After the Final Rose" special. Harrison did not want his controversial comments to overshadow Matt James' historic season of The Bachelor, since James is the first Black male for the Bachelor role in franchise history.

Despite his hiatus, Harrison was only absent for the taping of the special while Emmanuel Acho hosted the post-Bachelor special.

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