11/12/2013 12:34 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 06:56 EST

Kanye West Blasted For Confederate Flag On Tour Clothing

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 04: Kanye West is seen on November 04, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
Rev. Al Sharpton and other African American leaders are blasting provocative rapper Kanye West for his latest controversial move: using the U.S. Confederate flag to promote his new album.

Currently promoting his album Yeezus on a tour that's been plagued by technical problems, West has defended himself against critics by declaring he's "reclaimed" the incendiary flag to co-opt its negative connotation.

The "Southern Cross" was adopted by the slave-owning Southern states as their symbol during the U.S. Civil War and has been used as an emblem by white supremacist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan.

The flag, accompanied by a skull, is currently emblazoned on concert t-shirts, bags and other merchandise associated with the Yeezus tour and with a clothing line designed by the attention-seeking West.

Sharpton has slammed this latest inflammatory move by the hitmaker this month and criticized him during a press conference.

"The Confederate flag symbolizes dehumanization, injustice and pain. It is a stark reminder of an era in our history that was defined by the abhorrent practice of slavery. And it is representative of a mentality that looked upon blacks as inferiors who needed to remain in the shackles of subservience," declared the civil rights activist.

Sharpton and others are calling for a boycott of the clothing and merchandise line and of any stores selling it.

"When Kanye embraces and adorns this Confederate flag, he also embraces the ignorance and racism that goes along with it," said Najee Ali, political director for the Los Angeles branch of Sharpton's civil rights organization National Action Network.

Kanye West's "Yeezus Tour" Merch

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