EMERYVILLE, Calif. (AP) _ Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante used a racial slur during a Black History Month speech in what he called an embarrassing slip of the tongue.

Bustamante, a Hispanic Democrat who has focused on improving race relations, said he meant to use the word ``Negro'' but slipped and said another n-word during his speech about the black union movement.

``I was appalled he would even say it as a slip. You don't make a slip like that unless it is something you say normally,'' said Gwendalyn Bello, who attended the event, the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists' annual awards dinner.

A few of the 300 or so people at the event Friday walked out in protest, said Antonio Christian, president of the coalition's Northern California chapter.

Bustamante said he tried repeatedly to apologize.

``I know it came out of my mouth, but it is not how I was taught. It is not how I teach my children,'' he said.

Christian said he did not hear the slur but forgives Bustamante if he did use the word.

California Republican Party Chairman John McGraw suggested Bustamante ``sign up immediately for the state-sponsored sensitivity courses.''

The California Legislative Black Caucus affirmed its support for the lieutenant governor.

``He mispronounced a word during his speech. That's all,'' said Democrat Assemblyman Rod Wright of Los Angeles.