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Cash Children Speak Out After Johnny Cash T-Shirt Spotted on Charlottesville Protester

Johnny Cash I Walk the Line
ABC Television, Hulton Archive / Getty Images

A photo of a protester at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., wearing a Johnny Cash T-shirt has angered the country icon’s children. On Facebook on Wednesday (Aug. 16), Rosanne Cash — the oldest child of Cash and his first wife, Vivian Liberto — posted a lengthy note from herself and her siblings denouncing the white supremacists, white nationalists, Ku Klux Klan members and neo-Nazis who rallied in Charlottesville on Saturday (Aug. 12).

In the note, Cash and her siblings explain that they were made aware of video, circulating on the internet and news channels, of one of the Charlottesville protesters (“a self-proclaimed neo-Nazi,” they write) “spewing hatred and bile” while wearing a T-shirt with Cash’s name on it.

“We were sickened by the association,” the Cash siblings write. “Johnny Cash was a man whose heart beat with the rhythm of love and social justice.”

As his children point out, Cash received a number of humanitarian awards — including honors from the Jewish National Fund and the United Nations — and worked to help Native Americans, the poor and prisoners. Along with Rosanne Cash, the Man in Back served on the advisory board of an organization that worked to prevent gun violence among children; he also has relatives who served in World War II and fought the Nazis.

“His pacifism and inclusive patriotism were two of his most defining characteristics. 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 siblings’ note continues. “Our dad told each of us, over and over throughout our lives, ‘Children, you can choose love or hate. I choose love.’”

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Thanks in part to their father’s lessons, the Cash siblings “do not judge race, color, sexual orientation or creed” and “value the capacity for love and the impulse towards kindness … respect diversity, and cherish our shared humanity … recognize the suffering of other human beings, and remain committed to our natural instinct for compassion and service.”

The Cashes’ note ends with a final word to those “who claim supremacy over other human beings” or “believe in racial or religious hierarchy”: “We are not you. 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.”

In addition to Rosanne Cash, the note is signed by Kathy Cash, Cindy Cash, Tara Cash and John Carter Cash.

The Cashes are just a few of those in the country music community who have shared thoughts about the Charlottesville rally. Jason IsbellMargo PriceMaren Morris, the Brothers Osborne and more condemned the gathering, while Kip Moore was especially vocal, urging his fans and followers to spread kindness and take care of each other and sharing his thoughts on growing up in Georgia and seeing racism spread. After watching a speech given by the mother of Heather Heyer, who was killed during a counter-protest, Blake Shelton urged his fans and followers to listen to her words.

Country Artists Denounce Charlottesville White Supremacist March on Twitter

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