A Maryland principal has apologized after using the N-word while talking to students during a Black History Month assembly last week.

Principal Joy Morrow of New Hope Academy in Hyattsville, Md., said she was sorry for using the term during an assembly, Fox 5 DC reported Tuesday.

Morrow said the keynote speaker had abruptly canceled right before the assembly, so she decided to recreate a talk she gave 25 years ago on “What Dr. Martin Luther King’s teaching meant in my life,” according to the apology obtained by the news outlet.

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Morrow reportedly prefaced the talk with sixth through 12th graders by saying she would use the N-word to describe growing up as a child in what she described as an “all white, racist community” in Dubuque, Iowa, in the 1970s. 

The principal, who is white, wrote in the apology statement that she used the term “to explain what was said to me as a child, and the emotional fear it engendered. I talked about how such language is used to transmit hate to a young child."

“The n-word instead acted to distract some of the children rather than impacting the students to understand the negative power this word had on shaping a young child,” Morrow wrote. “For this reason and others, I regret using it.”

It became clear after the assembly that Morrow’s use of the word had upset some students, the principal wrote.

The assembly divided up into groups for sessions with students and teachers after the speech. Morrow said she attended each session and “sincerely apologized that my use of the word made them feel disrespected, and detracted from the message I was trying to convey."