Detroit activists to meet with GM over Kid Rock, confederate flag – Detroit Free Press
Dissatisfied with an apparent lack of empathy from music super-star Kid Rock, a civil rights group calling on him to renounce the Confederate battle flag is meeting with his tour sponsor: General Motors.
“We will be furthering our call to ask GM to remove their support of funds for Kid Rock’s tour,” said the Rev. Charles Williams II, president of the Michigan Chapter of the National Action Network and pastor of King Solomon Baptist Church in Detroit.
General Motors, whose Chevrolet brand is sponsoring Kid Rock’s summer tour, today sent the Free Press a statement confirming the meeting Thursday.
“We have been in touch with Reverend Williams, and representatives from Chevrolet will be meeting with him later this week to better understand his concerns. We need to let some open and constructive dialogue occur as a first step, and we’ll go from there,” according to the statement.
Members of the action network, a branch of the national organization founded by Al Sharpton, appeared outside the Detroit Historical Museum earlier this month calling on Kid Rock to distance himself from the battle flag that represented the South in the Civil War and has been associated with racial hatred. Last week, the issue became more heated when Rock supposedly told protesters they could “kiss my …”
That was the message passed along by Fox News Channel’s Megyn Kelly, who was wrapping up a segment about Rock and the Confederate flag,
Rock’s spokesman told the Free Press that the remark came from a personal conversation between Rock and the Fox host. Rock has otherwise not commented publicly on the controversy.
The automaker on Friday reiterated its support for Rock, who has been criticized by some for his use of the controversial flag through the years. A Chevrolet spokesman said Friday that the automaker stands behind the statement it issued Monday after a Detroit protest by NAN, a New York-based group founded by the Rev. Al Sharpton.
“The only flag on stage during the Chevy-sponsored summer concert tour is the American flag, and to our knowledge, Kid Rock has not used the Confederate flag on stage for several years,” the GM statement read. “We are committed to our sponsorship of Kid Rock’s summer tour and are confident that he will provide his fans, many of whom are proud Chevrolet owners, with a spectacular concert experience that celebrates American Freedom.”
Kid Rock has declined to issue a formal statement about the recent flag flap but did express contempt for the protesters in a remark relayed last Wednesday by Fox News Channel’s Megyn Kelly. Wrapping up a segment about Rock and the Confederate flag, Kelly passed along his message.
Rock, 44, whose real name is Robert James Ritchie, has always been a fan of Southern rock and has performed in front of the flag — as well as the American flag.
Williams said Tuesday that all they want is for him to do is distance himself from the controversial symbol.
“We’re saying that if we could get a commitment that this is not going to be at his shows, not going to be something that he promotes, then we would be happy,” Williams said.
In 2011, Rock received the Great Expectations Award from the Detroit Branch NAACP, calling it “by far the coolest award I’ve received.”
With protesters outside the event that night burning a Confederate flag, Rock addressed the controversy briefly on stage.
“I never flew that flag with any hate in my heart,” Rock told the crowd at 56th annual Fight for Freedom Fund Dinner, noting that he had embraced it as a Southern rock tribute.
The controversy stretches back to at least 2002 when Rock was displaying the Confederate flag onstage for several minutes during shows on that year’s tour.
“Everybody knows where I stand and what I’m about,” he told the Free Press in an interview at the time. “It’s not about hatred or being a racist. I like Southern rock music, and a lot of people died under that flag for beliefs they had, right or wrong. But it stands for rebel, and my love of Southern rock.”
Free Press Business Writer Greg Gardner contributed to this report. Contact Robert Allen at firstname.lastname@example.org or @rallenMI.