After the NAACP announced it would honor him with its Great Expectations Award, rapper-turned-rocker Kid Rock ignored the criticism and accepted the accolade last night at the organization’s 56th Annual Fight for Freedom Fund Dinner.

The event, which took place in his native Detroit, MIchigan, saw the singer receiving the honor and announcing $100,000 in donations and grants to local organizations and the American Red Cross for victims of recent tornados. The Motor City entertainer faced controversy from critics who blasted the NAACP for honoring a performer who used a Confederate flag on stage and in videos, though the 10,000 attendees at the award show supported Rock by giving him a standing ovation. 

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But outside of event locale Cobo Hall, protesters burned Confederate flags and brandished “No to Kid Rock” signs. “Every bigot and racist in this country loves that flag,” said Detroit political consultant Adolph Mongo. “If Kid Rock was alive in the 50s in Selma [Alabama] he would have beaten up John Lewis and waving the Confederate flag.”

During his acceptance speech, Rock dismissed the connotations that come with the controversial flag. “I’ve never flown that flag with hate in my heart, not one ounce,” he told the audience, declaring his use of it as a tribute to classic rock group Lynyrd Skynyrd. “I just want to say I love America, I love Detroit and I love black people.” 

Rock, born Robert James Ritchie, who began his career as a rapper on Jive Records, most recently released his seventh studio album Born Free in November 2010.