It has been a while since Kid Rock was considered “controversial” by the music world, but that changed with his acceptance of the Detroit NAACP’s Great Expectations Award. At Sunday night’s annual Fight for Freedom Fund Dinner, a small group of about 50 people took to picketing outside the Cobo Center — not due to Rock’s questionable lyrics or the hard-partying lifestyle he promotes, but rather due to his common use of the Confederate flag, which the protesters promptly set on fire to further illustrate their frustrations. Attended by nearly 10,000 people, the annual fundraiser was an opportunity for the Michigan-native to defend himself.
“I love America. I love Detroit, and I love black people,” Rock said on Sunday night, according to The Associated Press.
Rock’s selection as an honoree had been criticized from the beginning by some who feel the Confederate flag remains a symbol of oppression and racism, which conflicts with the ideology of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
“It stands for hatred, bigotry, racism, murder. Every bigot and racist in this country loves that flag,” said Detroit political consultant Adolph Mongo, who helped ignite the replica to chants of “Burn, baby, burn.”
Rock described the entire controversy as a “fiasco.” “I have not flown that flag with any hate in my heart. Not one ounce,” he continued before announcing $50,000 in donations from his foundation would go to various good causes in the Detroit-area.
Detroit’s NAACP President Wendell Anthony defended Rock and praised his advocacy of the city, “We’re not lifting up the flag. We’re lifting up a gentleman who has worked very hard to be a booster for Detroit.” Hard to argue considering how many times Detroit is name-dropped in Rock’s catalog.