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Activists to meet GM over Kid Rock sponsorship, flag issue

DETROIT (AP) — Activists in Detroit want General Motors to end the Chevrolet brand’s sponsorship of Kid Rock’s summer tour if the musician continues to display the Confederate flag at performances.

Members of the National Action Network have been discussing a meeting Thursday with GM executives, Detroit chapter president the Rev. Charles Williams II told The Associated Press Tuesday.

“The best resolution is for GM to pull their sponsorship of Kid Rock,” Williams said. “The entire civil rights community is ready to open up a campaign on this issue if General Motors doesn’t want to take responsibility on this bad business issue.”

The Associated Press left messages Tuesday seeking comment from the rocker. AP was awaiting a response from GM, but has confirmed having discussions with the group about a meeting.

Kid Rock, who was born Robert Ritchie and lives in suburban Detroit, has been criticized in past years for displaying the flag during onstage performances. It’s not clear if he still displays the flag during his concerts.

The Confederate flag spurred protests following last month’s massacre of nine black worshippers at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. The white man charged in the slayings, Dylann Storm Roof, had posed with the Confederate battle flag in photos that were posted online before the attack that police say was motivated by racial hatred.

Lawmakers in South Carolina voted to remove the flag from outside the Statehouse. It was taken down last week.

National Action Network members protested last week outside a Detroit museum housing a Kid Rock exhibit. Williams said the group still is awaiting a response from the musician.

Kid Rock grew up in Michigan’s Macomb County and is known for dabbling in a variety of musical styles, from hip-hop and hard rock, to country and Southern rock. He counts as his biggest hits, “Picture,” ”All Summer Long,” ”Bawitdaba” and “Born Free.” GM has used “Born Free” to promote its Chevy brand.

His philanthropy in Detroit and surrounding areas also is well-known. Kid Rock was honored in 2011 by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People branch in Detroit.

“I’ve never flown that flag with any hate in my heart. Not one ounce,” Ritchie told a crowd attending the organization’s annual fundraising dinner.

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Associated Press Auto Writer Dee-Ann Durbin in Detroit contributed to this story.

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