Chris Harrison's apology might not have happened without a far-ranging conversation he had with author Michael Eric Dyson ... about historical racism and the perception of Black people in this country.
Dyson joined us Friday on "TMZ Live" to discuss the guidance he gave the embattled host of the 'Bachelor' franchise ... and says it was crystal clear to him how genuinely committed Chris was in trying to grapple with race.
He said, "You don't have to spend 50 days with somebody to get whether they're sincere or not and whether they're willing to put in the work. He was."
As we reported ... Harrison mentioned Dyson during his 'GMA' interview as one of the people he turned to for counseling after the backlash he got for excusing historical racism during an interview with ex-'Bachelorette' Rachel Lindsay.
Michael, who wrote "Long Time Coming: Reckoning with Race in America," says he believes Chris isn't just trying to get his job back, either. Instead, he says Chris "knew he had done something wrong, and he was extremely sad about that."
MED points to the fact, Harrison didn't just apologize to Rachel and the Black community -- but he also made sure to denounce the online trolls spewing hate at Rachel.
As for Harrison's 'Bachelor' future? Dyson says he's not down with cancel culture -- in fact, he calls it "fascist," and issues a warning to those on board with it.