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Kid Rock makes $100,000 in donations while accpeting NAACP award

of the Oakland Press

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DETROIT — Seeking to “turn a negative into a positive,” Kid Rock announced $100,000 worth of donations to charities in Detroit and elsewhere in receiving his controversial Great Expectations award Sunday night during the Detroit branch of the NAACP’s 56th annual Fight For Freedom Fund Dinner.

Clarkston resident Rock (real name Bob Ritchie) — whose award was protested by those angered by his use of the Confederate flag in his stage shows and videos — assured the crowd of more than 10,000 that “I’ve never flown that flag with any hate in my heart, not one ounce.”

Rather, he said, it was intended as homage to the Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Earlier, about 60 people took part in a demonstration outside Cobo Center protesting Rock’s receiving the award because of his use of the flag.

“It stands for hatred, bigotry, racism, murder,” said protest organizer Mongo, who helped light a Confederate flag on fire about 5 p.m. outside the venue. “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 be beating up John Lewis and waving the Confederate flag.”

Some carried signs that said, “No to Kid Rock.”

Rock entered the dinner about 5:40 p.m., accompanied by his son, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s senior Bob Ritchie Jr., his older brother Billy and production manager Eric “Shakes” Gryzdowski.

Rock sported a black suit with matching fedora a pink tie and pink shoes.

“I got competition from (Wayne County Circuit Court) Judge (Craig) Strong,” Rock said.

Prior to his speech, Rock spoke with other dignitaries on his dais, including Detroit Mayor Dave Bing.

During his speech, Rock announced $10,000 donations each to Youthville Detroit, Habitat For Humanity Detroit, the Belle Isle Conservatory, the Partners in Detroit Recreation Center and the Mosaic Youth Theatre. Rock also donated $50,000 to the American Red Cross for tornado victims in the American South.

Rock called the NAACP honor “the coolest award I’ve ever gotten in my lifetime” and concluded that “I love America, I love Detroit and I love black people!”

Rock received a standing ovation several times during his brief remarks.

Presenting the award to Rock, Detroit NAACP President Wendell Anthony sought to defuse some of the controversy by quoting the lyrics to Rock’s pro-Detroit song “In Times Like These.” Anthony also reaffirmed the NAACP’s disapproval of the Confederate flag, but said “we are not saluting the flag, we are saluting the works” of Rock.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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