Kid Rock gave as well as received on Sunday night (May 1) in his home town.
While accepting his controversial Great Expectations Award at the Detroit branch of the NAACP's 56th annual Fight For Freedom Fund Dinner, Rock announced $100,000 in donations -- five $10,000 grants to Motor City-based organizations and $50,000 to the American Red Cross for tornado victims in U.S. Southern states. Many in the crowd announced at more than 10,000 gave Rock a standing ovation, diffusing a bit of the controversy that surrounded the award.
Critics felt it was inappropriate for the NAACP to honor Rock since he uses a Confederate flag in his stage shows and videos. Outside of Cobo Hall, where the dinner was held, a couple of dozen protesters marched with Say No To Kid Rock signs and at one point burned a Confederate flag over a garbage can. Adolph Mongo, a Detroit political consultant who was outspoken in his opposition to the award, said that the flag "stands for hatred, bigotry, racism, murder. "Every bigot and racist in this country loves that flag." He added that, "If Kid Rock was alive in the 50s in Selma (Ala.) he would have beaten up John Lewis and waving the Confederate flag." Lewis, a leading Civil Rights activist and now a U.S. Representative from Georgia, was one of the night's other honorees.
During his brief remarks, Rock -- who attended the dinner with his son, Bob Ritchie, Jr., brother Billy Ritchie and production manager Eric "Shakes" Gryzbowski -- told the crowed that "I've never flown that flag with hate in my heart, not one ounce." He explained that his use of the image was an "homage" to Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd, who he's name-checked in his songs and whose "Sweet Home Alabama" was an ingredient in his 2008 mash-up hit, "All Summer Long." Rock explained that he made the donations to "turn a negative into a positive," and concluded his speech by saying that, "I love America, I love Detroit and I love black people!"
In presenting the award to Rock, Detroit NAACP President Wendell Anthony acknowledged the controversy as well as his organizations opposition to what the Confederate flag represents and noted that Rock "has stirred the pot" by using it. But he added that "we are not saluting the flag. We are saluting the works" that Rock has done in the community.
Rock returns to the road this week with a pair of casino shows in Thackerville, Okla., before playing the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival on Sunday (May 8). He begins a five-date Canadian tour on May 31, then starts a summer run with Sheryl Crow on July 2 in Cincinnati.