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Yesterday (2/17) during the Country Radio Seminar’s “Country Music Trailblazers” panel, Luke Combs addressed past photos and videos that featured him with a prominently displayed Confederate flag.

In an interview that also featured Maren Morris, Combs said, “There is no excuse for those images.”

When asked about racial inequity at all levels of the country music industry and his own role and responsibility, Combs said, “Just saying there are things that need to change, taking a moment to be aware of that and knowing there are problems that exist, is the biggest first step I have taken. These things do happen. Let’s not sit here and say they don’t, because they do.”

Luke addressed pictures of him playing a guitar that with a Confederate Flag sticker on it (he also appeared in a NSFW music video by Ryan Upchurch, “Can I Get A Rebel,” which prominently featured the flag). “As a younger man, that was an image I associated to mean something else. I am now aware how painful that image can be to someone else. I do apologize for that. I apologize for being associated with that. Hate is not a part of my core values.”

He added, “I’m here to say I’m trying to learn. I’m trying to do better. I know I’m a highly visible member of the country music community right now, and I want to use that position for good and to say that people can change. People do want to change, and I’m one of those people trying.”

Gallery: Luke Combs