Conservative rap-rock musician Kid Rock hasn’t been swayed by the recent national outcry over the Confederate flag.
The Detroit native routinely displays the controversial symbol and occasionally uses it as a prop during his concert performances. Activists, inspired by the tragic massacre of nine people at a predominately black church in Charleston, South Carolina, last month, held a demonstration on Monday at the Detroit Historical Museum, where he is featured in an exhibit, to call attention to what they consider his cultural insensitivity.
The confessed killer in the massacre, 21-year-old Dylann Storm Roof, has been photographed in the past brandishing the flag and is known to have had an affinity for white supremacist rhetoric.
The protest was led by members of the Detroit chapter of Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network. Sharpton hosts “PoliticsNation” on msnbc.
“How in the hell can Kid Rock represent Detroit and wave that flag just generating millions and millions in ticket sales – a flag that represents genocide to most of Detroit?” asked Sam Riddle, political director of the National Action Network, at the protest Monday, according to the Detroit Free Press.
Rev. Charles Williams II, who serves as president of the Michigan Chapter of the National Action Network and as a pastor at King Solomon Baptist Church in Detroit, acknowledged that Kid Rock is a “home-town hero,” but said he is “a zero with the Confederate flag,” in a separate statement on Monday.
On Thursday, Kid Rock released a statement to Fox News about the controversy that read: “Please tell the people who are protesting to kiss my a–.”
Ironically, Rock’s defiant stance came the day before the Confederate flag was removed from the grounds of the South Carolina Statehouse after a long and contentious debate among lawmakers. The symbolic gesture was greeted with cheers from a crowd of thousands, and the flag was taken to local history museum, where it will remain indefinitely.
This is not the first time Rock’s position on the stars and bars and provoked conflict. In 2011, when the NAACP gave the “Cowboy” singer an award for his work promoting the city of Detroit, the move was protested because of his embrace of the Confederate flag. “I’ve never flown that flag with any hate in my heart,” he said at the time. “Not one ounce.”
“I love America. I love Detroit, and I love black people,” he added. Nevertheless, protesters outside the ceremony lit a replica of the Confederate flag on fire. “We’re not lifting up the flag,” Detroit NAACP President Wendell Anthony said at the time, in defense of giving Rock the honor. “We’re lifting up a gentleman who has worked very hard to be a booster for Detroit.”
Rock has a biracial son, Robert Ritchie, jr., whom he won sole custody of in 2000. He also once penned a controversial song which is believed to be about his tumultuous relationship with his son’s African-American mother, called “Black Chick, White Guy,” which led to a defamation suit.
Protesters have promised to boycott the 100 years of Detroit music exhibit, of which Kid Rock is prominently featured, unless and until he publicly renounces the Confederate flag.