The recent hoopla over Kid Rock using the Confederate flag in his live shows has developed an interesting twist. Despite what protesters believed, the singer has not displayed the controversial battle flag in several years, according to his representative. Protesters are now ending their fight in convincing General Motors (GM) to drop their sponsorship of the singer’s tour.
Last week, about a dozen protesters from the Detroit chapter of Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network (NAN) demonstrated outside of the Detroit Historic Museum where Rock, a native of the city, funds a music exhibit, reported USA Today. The protesters expressed that they were in opposition of Rock’s use of the Confederate flag — the Southern symbol that has been heavily criticized in recent months since Dylan Roof, the man who killed nine people at a Black church in Charleston, South Carolina on June 17, was seen in pictures sporting the flag. The outrage over its offensive symbolism resulted in the flag being taken off the grounds of the South Carolina Statehouse.
The scrutiny of Rock first began on social media on June 20 when Oakland Press writer Ken Hreha penned a piece about the flag and deemed Rock as being Michigan’s “most visible proponent” of the symbol. He additionally questioned the morality of GM’s Chevrolet, which is sponsoring Rock’s tour.
On Wednesday, Rock’s publicist, Nick Stern, told the Detroit Free Press that the protesters were mistaken. He said that when Rock was presented with a Great Expectations Award from Detroit’s NAACP in 2011, the “Cowboy” singer decided to stop using the Confederate flag.
“It’s been more than five years since he’s had that flag on tour,” Stern said. “They’re protesting something he’s not even doing.”
As Rock accepted his NAACP award, around 40 protesters who disapproved of Rock being honored were outside burning the Confederate flag, although according to Stern, Rock had not used the flag in over a year prior to the award event. While inside, Rock addressed the crowd, saying he “never flew the flag with hate in my heart,” adding, “I love America, I love Detroit, and I love Black people.”
“That was the impetus,” Stern said of the day Rock received his award. “Since then, he’s never flown it again.”
Rock began using the flag in the early 2000s and told the Detroit Free Press in 2002 that it represented rebellion and Southern rock.
Rev. Charles Williams II, president of Michigan’s NAN, explained Wednesday why the group continued to go after Rock.
“It was our understanding that Kid Rock had used the flag, is using the flag and has tried to defend that flag,” said Williams.
After the Charleston church shooting, Williams said, “We realized that there is a culture that’s been promoting the flag, and we saw Kid Rock being one of those people who was promoting it.”
On July 8, Rock emailed a message to Fox News’ Megyn Kelly, which she read to her audience: “Please tell the people protesting that they can kiss my a–.”
Williams spoke with GM Thursday, and the motor vehicle company issued a statement saying GM will continue in their dealings with Rock.
“We had a very constructive conversation with Rev. Williams and we plan to continue the dialogue going forward. Chevrolet plans to continue its sponsorship of Kid Rock’s summer concert series,” the statement read.
Williams explained that the NAN would no longer be targeting Rock.
“There’s not a need to protest now,” Williams said. “It doesn’t mean it’s off the table, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t going to be escalated actions at some point. It just means the dialogue is going in the right direction, and we are looking forward to seeing if we can come to some solutions.”