The family of Johnny Cash is demanding that white supremacists and other hate groups not use the legendary singer’s image in any way while promoting discriminatory ideas.
Cash’s children slammed the white supremacist groups who protested in Charlottesville, Va., last weekend at a rally in which a man drove a car into a crowd, killing a woman and injuring 19 others.
“To any who claim supremacy over other human beings, to any who believe in racial or religious hierarchy: we are not you,” Cash’s children wrote in a Facebook post Wednesday night. “Our father, as a person, icon, or symbol, is not you. We ask that the Cash name be kept far away from destructive and hateful ideology. We Choose Love.”
In particular, the Cash family took issue with a video of a man wearing a Johnny Cash T-shirt at the rally. They said they were “sickened” by the association with the man, who they said was a self-proclaimed neo-Nazi.
“He would be horrified at even a casual use of his name or image for an idea or a cause founded in persecution and hatred,” the Cash children wrote.
The family cited Cash’s espoused beliefs and many humanitarian awards, including those from the Jewish National Fund, B’nai Brith, and the United Nations. They reiterated that he championed the rights of Native Americans, protested the war in Vietnam, was a voice for the poor, the struggling and the disenfranchised, and an advocate for the rights of prisoners.
“The white supremacists and neo-Nazis who marched in Charlottesville are poison in our great society, and an insult to every American hero who wore a uniform to fight the Nazis in WWII,” they wrote. “Several men in the extended Cash family were among those who served with honor. Our dad told each of us, over and over throughout our lives, ‘Children, you can choose love or hate. I choose love.’”
The post was signed by Rosanne, Kathy, Cindy, Tara and John Carter Cash. It comes as white supremacist groups have faced widespread backlash for the events in Charlottesville and as President Donald Trump remains roiled in controversy over whether he is endorsing their actions.
Other entertainment figures, including radio host Bobby Bones, have taken to social media to sharply condemn the white supremacists and urge others to do the same.
Meanwhile, the head of the Georgia-based company that makes Tiki torches said he was offended by images of white supremacists marching through Charlottesville, Virginia, using his company's products.
W.C. Bradley Co. President and CEO Marc Olivie told the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer on Monday that the Columbus-based company's staff was "appalled and saddened" that the torches were "used by people who promote bigotry and hatred."
People in countless cities across the U.S., including Memphis, Knoxville, Clarksville, Murfreesboro and Franklin, Tenn., have held vigils, protests or peace gatherings in support of those affected by the violence in Charlottesville. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been raised nationwide to help those victims.
And in several cities, including Nashville and Memphis, there have been large demonstrations calling on governments to remove statues and monuments that remember major figures in the Civil War and the Confederate era.
The white supremacists in Charlottesville were originally gathered to protest a decision to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in that city. In many places in the South, including Tennessee, the removal of such monuments is made difficult or rendered impossible by law.