"One of the great parts of sitting in this chair each day is getting to discuss different points of view," she said. "Sometimes I talk and sometimes I listen and yesterday, I learned. I learned that given the history of blackface being used in awful ways by racists in this country, it is not OK for that to be part of any costume, Halloween or otherwise. I have never been a P.C. kind of person. But I do understand the value in being sensitive to our history, particularly on race and ethnicity. This past year has been so painful for many people of color."
Kelly added, getting emotional, "The country feels so divided. And I have no wish to add to that pain and offense. I believe this is a time for more understanding, more love, more sensitivity and honor. And I want to be part of that. Thank you for listening and for helping me listen too."
Kelly's studio audience, which contained people of different races, gave her a standing ovation.
Earlier on Wednesday, Kelly's Today show colleagues also condemned her blackface comments.
"The fact is, while she apologized to the staff, she owes a bigger apology to folks of color round the country," Al Roker said on the show. "This is a history going back to the 1830s minstrel shows to demean and denigrate a race. It wasn't right. I'm old enough to know have lived through Amos 'n' Andy, where you had white people in blackface playing two black characters, just magnifying the worst stereotypes about black men—and that's what the problem is. That's what the issue is."
(E! and NBC are both members of the NBCUniversal family.)