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.