Comedian Larry Wilmore on Monday evening defended his surprising use of the N-word toward President Obama at the White House Correspondents' Association dinner on Saturday

“I’m wrapping up my speech and giving the president some props, telling him how much I appreciated him being the first black president and how much that meant to me,” Wilmore said on Comedy Central’s “The Nightly Show."


“Then I buttoned it with, um, a little colloquialism,” Wilmore added.

“Many people were upset about it. Many people supported it. I completely understand why people would be upset about that. It’s a very charged word. I get it.”

Wilmore closed out his remarks Saturday night by marveling at the historical significance of Obama’s presidency.

“When I was a kid, I lived in a country where people couldn’t accept a black quarterback,” he said.

"And now to live in your time, Mr. President, when a black man can lead the entire free world," Wilmore continued.

“Yo, Barry, you did it my n----!” he added, pounding his chest before embracing a smiling Obama after the moment.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest defended Wilmore’s use of the word earlier on Monday.

“[Obama] appreciated the spirit of the sentiments that Mr. Wilmore expressed,” he said, adding that the White House did not vet his speech before the event.

Critics argued Wilmore’s use of the word demeans the presidency because of the word's charged racial history.

“Never before has the n-word been used to describe address the president,” wrote Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart, who is African-American. "At least, not in public and most definitely not to his face. That’s why Wilmore’s use of it was as shocking as it was disrespectful."