Statement by Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony, President, Detroit Branch NAACP

DETROIT – The recent response to the Denby and Almont High School District 5 finals by the Superintendent of the Almont School District is most disappointing. It appears the Superintendent is placing the entire responsibility on the backs of the Denby players. This shows a lack of understanding, sensitivity and creative balance to resolve not only this dispute but to use this incident as a teaching moment. The experience of black youth at this football game in which they were spat upon, called the n-word, pushed and excoriated by adults supporting the Almont team must weigh heavily on any decision made. This is particularly important as it relates to discipline or accountability for any individual involved. Where is the evidence of the Sheriff’s Department, the Oakland County Prosecutor’s office, or the Almont School District that this incident was stimulated, motivated and perpetuated by only three black players from Denby High School?

Now is the time for grown folks to act like grown folks. There should be a coming together of both districts to address this unfortunate incident in a manner that precludes any further outrage. The Michigan High School Athletics Association must ensure greater diversity, training and accountability on the field, during the game, and at the conclusion. There has been no coming together of the individuals involved in this incident. It is natural, although it may not be desirable, for young people to respond in this way to defend themselves or to stand up for their rights as demonstrated and reflected at the recent game. We do not support violence or verbal abuse by any individual or groups. However, we call upon the Superintendent of Almont, the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department, along with the Prosecutor’s office, the Detroit Public School Community District and any others involved to sit down around a common table to resolve this issue. Charging students who clearly were standing up for themselves and protecting their rights should not be condemned but should be understood. This is clearly a case where some have reacted on all sides in the midst of such hostility which involves not only black players but white players and white fans.

Click here — Bringing Charges Against Three Black Players Is Not The Answer — to read the statement in its entirety.

Press Statement — Racial Slurs, Gender Bias, Disrespect For Women is Wrong

Statement by Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony, President, Detroit Branch NAACP

DETROIT  – The Detroit Branch NAACP does not condone, support, or defend discrimination against any person, race, or station. The recent comments made by artist Kid Rock regarding Hollywood mogul and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey, ABC host of the View Joy Behar, and singer/former host of Live with Regis and Kathy Lee, Kathy Lee Gifford, are truly unacceptable. These comments made reportedly during a state of “obvious drunkenness” do not excuse the hurtful xenophobic and misogynistic expressions. Comments such as these are evil and divisive, whether made at a concert in Nashville, Tennessee or at a football game between two high school teams at the Division 5 state semifinals in Walled Lake, Michigan. Some have even called them racist as Oprah Winfrey was called out during the tirade.

Nearly 10 years ago at the Detroit Branch NAACP’s 56th Annual Fight For Freedom Fund Dinner, May 1, 2011, awards were presented to several community and national individuals. Among them was Detroit native, Robert Ritchie, known as “Kid Rock.” Kid Rock was presented a Great Expectations Award for his advocacy for the city of Detroit, his Made In Detroit brand for Detroit products, and his contributions to Detroit and national charities. While some debated this particular selection, this was not the first time debates over honorees had occurred. The issue at the time was the use of the confederate flag as the backdrop in some of his concerts. The confederate flag still represents a period in our nation’s history of enslavement, terror, and division. We believe it should be taken down and not flown up. Since that time, the confederate flag, as well statues of the old confederacy, have been brought down in many places across the country. This was a well-attended dinner, with over 10,000 persons. It led to further discussion around the issue of the flag. Following the dinner, Kid Rock stopped using the flag during his concerts. We said then as we say today, we were not lifting up the flag. We were recognizing someone who advocated for our city which was being attacked across the country at various levels. For the record, Kid Rock consulted with the mayor of the city of Detroit at that time, Dave Bing, to make financial contributions to non-profit organizations in the city. He provided $10,000 each to five community groups, selected by the mayor. They were the Belle Isle Conservancy, Mosaic Youth Theater, Habitat For Humanity, Youthville Detroit, and the Detroit Recreational Centers. He also gave $50,000 to storm relief efforts in tornado impacted states. The Detroit Branch did not solicit nor receive any funds as a result of these contributions. We hope and pray that these organizations remain viable in these critical times.

Click here — Racial Slurs, Gender Bias, Disrespect For Women Is Wrong — to read the full statement.