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Detroit — A dozen members of the Michigan chapter of the National Action Network held a protest Monday morning demanding that Kid Rock stop performing with the Confederate battle flag, which many believe is associated with racism, slavery and the Civil War.

"Kid Rock, who claims to be a Detroit hometown hero, is turning into a zero with his promotion of the Confederate flag," said the Rev. Charles Williams II, president of the Michigan Chapter of the National Action Network and pastor of King Solomon Baptist Church. "We're very concerned about this and have been for some time. It's time for him to make a move and begin to renounce and remove the Confederate flag out of his shows. I think this is time for him to make a definitive statement in showing that these types of symbols are hurtful and they are hateful."

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Members of the Detroit chapter of the National Action Network demand that Kid Rock stop using the flag in his performances.

It's unclear whether Kid Rock's recent performances have included the flag.

Williams was among protesters who demonstrated outside the Detroit Historical Museum, asking that until Robert James Ritchie (Kid Rock's given name) denounces the flag that museum officials remove references of the star from their display highlighting the city's influence on almost every genre of music.

The timing of the protest comes as African-Americans around the country — including those in Detroit — continue to reel after a massacre that killed nine last month at a historic black church in Charleston, S.C., Williams said. The shooting ignited a debate about the Confederate flag at the South Carolina State capital and elsewhere.

"Everybody in the country is beginning to get an awakening to what this flag means," Williams said.

Part of the display at the Detroit Historical Museum includes the Kid Rock Music Lab, which, according to the museum, is an interactive and participatory display for visitors to enjoy.

If Ritchie does not stop using the the Confederate flag, Williams said, his group will begin a campaign calling for the museum to remove his name from the display. They also plan to contact General Motors, who, Williams said, is sponsoring Ritchie's summer tour.

"Why would you want to bankroll someone's tour who is going around promoting this symbol of hate?" Williams said. "This symbol of hate is just as bad as the swastika.... We're a national organization, so we aren't opposed to protesting and demonstrating at every single show he's got."

"I've never flown that flag with any hate in my heart, not one ounce," said Ritchie in 2011 when he received the NAACP's Great Expectations Award before 10,000 people at Cobo Center.

Ritchie made that statement just prior to announcing $50,000 in donations from the Kid Rock Foundation to Detroit recreation centers, the Belle Isle Conservancy, a youth theater group, a youth training agency and Habitat for Humanity.

Before Kid Rock was honored about 50 protesters gathered outside Cobo Center to voice their opposition to his receiving the award.

At the time of the award, Detroit NAACP President Wendell Anthony said Ritchie was being honored for his devotion to Detroit, saying the organization was "not lifting up the flag ... we're lifting up a gentleman who has worked very hard to be a booster for Detroit."

In a 2008 interview in the British paper The Guardian, Ritchie said his use of the flag was no reflection on how he felt about African-Americans.

"To me it just represents pride in southern rock 'n' roll, plus it just looks cool," Ritchie said.

Kid Rock is slated to perform Monday at the Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden, N.J.. He made no immediate comment.

TGreenwood@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2023

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