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BART director apologizes for using racist language

BART director John McPartland. | Courtesy BART

A BART director has apologized for using racist language during a board meeting after a talk on racial equity.

John McPartland says he has been a BART director since 2008 and is also a member of the NAACP

The 78-year-old said the phrase, “cotton-picking inspirational,” in response to a presentation on BART’s racial equity work on Jan. 12. 

READ MORE: BART Director Under Fire for Racism Brands Confederate General ‘Genius’

McPartland spoke to The Standard Tuesday about the incident and admitted the use of racist language but apologized and pleaded ignorance.

“I am quite frankly mortified that I would cause that much grief to anybody that I hold in that much respect," he said. "I plead ignorance, and I ended up having a talk with the deputy general manager, who gave me a quote out of a dictionary for [the term] that identified a degree of sensitivity for the African American community. I am sincerely sorry. I am acknowledging my ignorance and sincerely apologize.”

One Standard reader who asked to remain anonymous commented on the incident, saying, “It disgusts me and many others from my community that this microaggression and possibly racist remark has gone unchecked.”

BART has been contacted for comment.

Joe Burn can be reached at