Civil rights group: No protest of GM over Kid Rock

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

The National Action Network said there would be no immediate protests over General Motor Co.’s sponsorship of Kid Rock’s concert tour after meeting with the automaker Thursday over the singer’s past use of the Confederate flag.

“We had a very constructive conversation, very positive in our favor,” said the Rev. Charles Williams II, president of the civil rights network’s Michigan chapter and pastor of King Solomon Baptist Church in Detroit. Williams had said if GM didn’t pull their sponsorship of Rock’s current tour, the group would organize a national protest against the automaker.

“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.”

In a statement, GM’s Patrick Morrissey said: “We had a very constructive conversation with Rev. Williams today and we plan to continue the dialogue going forward. Chevrolet plans to continue its sponsorship of Kid Rock’s summer concert series.”

The criticism of GM’s sponsorship comes as last month’s killing of nine people at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, reignited debate over the use of the Confederate flag throughout pop culture. Rock has used the flag in the past but hasn’t done so in several years.

Williams said Thursday’s conversation at GM’s world headquarters, which included local pastors and clergy, lasted around 90 minutes. He categorized it as “sometimes very deliberate, sometimes very heated,” but said positive strides were made.

He didn’t offer specifics, but said both groups plan to meet again “sooner than later” and that there are no protests scheduled.

“Talks will continue, but the first step has been made, and shortly, we’re going to see some results of this conversation,” Williams said. “We are looking forward to resolution very soon here.”

Kid Rock’s tour plays West Palm Beach on Thursday night, Tampa on Saturday and Atlanta on Sunday. Next month, he will perform a venue-record 10 concerts at DTE Energy Music Theatre, all of which are sold out.

agraham@detroitnews.com

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