In spite of his acknowledgments of his influences and his apparent lack of personal prejudice, the public perception that Elvis was a racist persists. That may be in part because he was considered the “king of rock n’ roll” in spite of the many Black musicians who came before him. Elvis popularized music that was first created by the Black community, and there’s a feeling that his success was a form of theft.
To his credit, Elvis often rejected the title of “king,” again citing his many influences. His argument was that no one should be called king, but of course, that didn’t stop him from being perceived that way. So, Elvis was seen as a racist in spite of his personal actions.
He may have been kind to Black people, but he wasn’t a huge advocate for civil rights. Elvis was just trying to make music, and his success hurt the legacies of Black musicians more than he may have intended.