DETROIT (CBS DETROIT) – In Detroit, the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People issued a statement surrounding the lowering of the Confederate flag in South Carolina last week.
In part, the statement said the NAACP for the past 15 years has waged an economic boycott against the State of South Carolina along with other organizations over the use of the Confederate Flag, adding, “It is this flag that has served as a symbol of the worst in our nation’s history.”
Taking this into consideration, it may seem strange on the surface that one of the largest chapters of the nation’s oldest civil rights organization, the NAACP in Detroit, bestowed an award on Kid Rock, a man who for decades has used the flag in his concerts while extolling the virtues of the party lifestyle.
He described himself in song as the “Pimp of the Nation.”
In 2011, Reverend Wendell Anthony, branch president for the NAACP, said he stood by the group’s decision to give Kid Rock its Great Expectations Award during the civil rights organization’s annual Fight for Freedom Fund dinner.
For Kid Rock, born Robert Ritchie and raised in a small rural community northeast of Detroit, the so-called “rebel flag” is part of his hard-partying, bad-boy stage persona. Kid Rock has not issued a formal statement, but reportedly said in a network TV interview that flag protesters could “kiss his —.”
The NAACP event where Kid Rock was awarded typically attracts 10,000 people and is the Detroit NAACP chapter’s largest fundraiser.
“It’s a better audience and kind of a place to say how I feel about the whole thing, maybe to explain some things to some people,” Kid Rock said at the time. “I think that will be a more appropriate place to speak my truth.”
Anthony defended the group’s decision at the time to give Kid Rock the award and said the Grammy-nominated musician isn’t a racist.
“The NAACP in Detroit does not support no Confederate anything,” Anthony said, offering no apologies for Kid Rock and his performances that include the Confederate flag. “We don’t support the Confederacy, the Confederate flag, racism or any of those things. Neither do any of the folks we associate ourselves with.”
Around the country, there is some pushback to the lowering of the Confederate flag in South Carolina. A pro-Confederate flag rally in Florida came just weeks after the shooting deaths of nine people at a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina, which spurred a national debate about the flying of the Confederate flag. On Friday, South Carolina removed the flag from a flagpole near its Statehouse.
The man charged in the Charleston shooting is shown in pictures with the Confederate flag.
Meantime, in Congress, lawmakers are debating a measure to block the display of the flag at federal cemeteries.