“American Idol” finalist Caleb Kennedy is leaving the singing competition show after a video surfaced showing him sitting next to someone who is wearing clothing that resembles a Ku Klux Klan hood.
Kennedy, 16, addressed the video and told fans on Twitter that he will no longer be on American Idol on Wednesday.
“There was a video that surfaced on the internet and it displayed actions that were not meant to be taken in that way,” Kennedy said. “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 pray that I can one day regain your trust in who I am and have your respect!” he added. “Thank you for supporting me.”
Kennedy’s family said in a statement to the Herald-Journal that the 3-second video was recorded when he was 12 years old. The clip, which appeared to originate on Snapchat, showed Kennedy sitting next to a person wearing a KKK-style hood. A version of the video has the word “bow” over the clip.
Anita Guy, Kennedy’s mother, told the newspaper that the video was taken after Caleb watched the movie, “The Strangers: Prey at Night” and both he and the person next to him were “imitating those characters.”
“It had nothing to do with the Ku Klux Klan, but I know that’s how it looks,” Guy said. “Caleb doesn’t have a racist bone in his body. He loves everyone and has friends of all races.”
After Kennedy performed an original song dedicated to his mother on Sunday, American Idol judge Lionel Richie called him “gifted.” Kennedy was a top-five finalist before announcing he was leaving the show.