Story at a glance:

  • Caleb Kennedy is leaving "American Idol."
  • A three-second video showed the teen posing next to someone who was wearing what appeared to be a Ku Klux Klan hood.
  • His mother said her son and his friend were imitating characters in a movie.

An “American Idol” finalist is leaving the show over a video made four years ago in which the now 16-year-old singer sat next to someone who was wearing cloth that resembled a Ku Klux Klan (KKK) hood. 


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The singer made an Instagram post on Wednesday, apologizing for his actions and announcing he will be stepping away from social media to better himself.

“Hey y’all, this is gonna be a bit of a surprise but I am no longer gonna be on ‘American Idol,’” he wrote. “There was a video that surfaced on the internet and it displayed actions that were not meant to be taken in that way. I was younger and did not think about the actions, but that’s not an excuse. I wanna say sorry to all my fans and everyone who I have let down. I’ll be taking a little time off social media to better myself, but saying that, I know this has hurt and disappointed a lot of people and made people lose respect for me. I’m so sorry! I pray that I can one day regain your trust in who I am and have your respect! Thank you for supporting me.”

The remaining four finalists include Willie Spence, Grace Kinstler, Chayce Beckham and Casey Bishop.

In an interview with USA Today, Anita Guy, Kennedy's mother, said her son was acting out characters he had seen in a movie. 

"I hate this has happened and how Caleb is being portrayed by people online," Guy said. "This video was taken after Caleb had watched the movie 'The Strangers: Prey at Night' and they were imitating those characters. It had nothing to do with the Ku Klux Klan, but I know that's how it looks. Caleb doesn't have a racist bone in his body. He loves everyone and has friends of all races."


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Published on May 13, 2021