America’s Got Talent host Nick Cannon can be seen in a short video on a website promoting the “Millions For Trayvon” march on Sept. 7 (formerly the Million Youth March) in the Harlem area of New York City, which the Anti-Defamation League says is backed by “the nation’s largest anti-Semitic and racist black militant group.”
However, his spokesperson says he in no way supports anti-Semitism or violent black militancy.
“Nick Cannon supports positivity, equality and unity amongst all people,” his publicist Tracy Nguyen said on Tuesday in a statement. “Any efforts to use his name by any organization, including the ADL to assert otherwise is a weak and tacky attempt to generate publicity on a non-issue.”
Nguyen said that the short video featuring Cannon was not something planned or scheduled, but rather he was asked to speak off the cuff when caught at a public event, and, being a nice guy, he made the comments.
In a press release, the ADL said it tried to contact a representative for Cannon before going public with its warning about one of the groups behind the march, the New Black Panther Party, which has been using Cannon’s name, image and video on websites and in social media to promote the event.
Cannon is one of several people who endorse the event. Others shown online from the entertainment industry include Tommy Ford (Martin), rapper Lil Trill, DJ Greg Street and Bun B of Rap-A-Lot Records.
“While it is unclear if these celebrity and business leaders realize exactly who and what they are promoting, their endorsements of the Million Youth March only help to legitimize the virulently anti-Semitic and racist message of the New Black Panther Party,” said Abraham Foxman, ADL’s national director.
“We hope that these public figures will take it upon themselves to completely disassociate themselves from the march,” added Foxman. “I think the last thing they would want is to have their names associated with the hateful message and mission of the New Black Panthers.”
Cannon might have an opportunity to speak about his involvement on Tuesday on the Piers Morgan program on CNN. Until now, Cannon has not spoken about the decision in the Martin case. Cannon’s appearance is to promote his role as host of America’s Got Talent and the MTV show Nick Cannon Presents Wild ‘n Out.
In raising an alarm about the upcoming march, the ADL cites a number of outrageous statement made by New Black Panther members. A tweet from the New Black Panther Party Twitter account says, “Black people must in self-defense legally arm yourselves or harm yourselves.” Another reads “The white race is absolutely disagreeable to live with in peace. No race has ever been ale to get along with the white race in peace.”
“They are the most militant black nationalist group in the country,” says Oren Segal, director of the ADL Center on Extremism.
The march planned for Sept. 7 was originally scheduled to mark the 15th anniversary of the first Million Youth March in 1998. That event, attended by about 30,000 people, became controversial because of statements made by speakers — including attacks on then-New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani — and because it ended in violent clashes with police.
The title was modified to “Millions for Trayvon” after the non-guilty verdict for George Zimmerman was announced this past weekend. That Florida court decision has led to protests, some violent, all over the country, including several in Los Angeles in recent days.
An announcement about the planned event on the One World website says that “speakers and performers will focus on self-pride, stopping violence, opposing “Stop and Frisk”, better education, stopping school closures, black economics and improving the black family.”
A spokesman for the New Black Panther Party reached by phone on Tuesday said he couldn’t speak in response to the ADL charges but that he would have someone call back to comment. That call was not returned after two hours, prior to the posting of this article.