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Kirk Franklin to boycott Dove Awards, GMA, TBN

NASHVILLE (BP) — Gospel music mogul Kirk Franklin will boycott the Gospel Music Association (GMA), the Dove Awards and Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) after awards broadcasts deleted mentions of racial injustice from his acceptance speeches, he said Monday (Oct. 28).

GMA deleted from Franklin’s 2019 acceptance speech his mention of the killing of Atatiana Jefferson on the Oct. 20 broadcast of the 2019 Dove Awards on TBN, Franklin said in a video he tweeted. In 2016, the Fort Worth, Texas, resident’s comments were deleted regarding the killings of black men Philando Castile and Walter Scott by white police officers and the killing of five white Dallas police officers by a black sniper. Both years, Franklin accepted the Gospel Artist of the Year Award.

“It is important for those in charge to be informed not only did they edit my speech, they edited the African American experience,” Franklin said. “Today, I feel like quitting. I am heartbroken that I even have to share this with you.”

GMA has apologized to Franklin after deleting the 2019 comments to meet broadcast time constraints, GMA President and Executive Director Jackie Patillo said in a statement released Monday.

“We [GMA] would like to publicly acknowledge that we are deeply apologetic for the missteps that happened relating to the editing of Kirk Franklin’s Dove Awards acceptance speech,” Patillo said. “We accept the responsibility of our error.

“Although completely unintentional, we understand it caused great harm and deeply wounded many in the African American and Gospel community. As well, it left a general perception that we are not concerned with key social issues that affect people of color,” she said. “It is not our intent to disregard or silence any of our artists, and we are deeply saddened by this perception and are committed to change this.”

Edited out of his 2019 speech was his request for prayer for Jefferson and others involved in and impacted by the shooting, including Jefferson’s nephew whom she was babysitting when a white police officer killed the black woman. The officer, Aaron Dean, is charged with murder.

“This past weekend a young lady, a young girl by the name of Atatiana Jefferson was shot and killed in her home by a policeman, and I’m just asking that we send up prayers for her family and for his,” Franklin said during the live event Oct. 15 in Nashville. “And I’m asking that we send up prayers for that 8-year-old little boy that saw that tragedy and we just lift them up. And I ask you to pray with us that we will just pray grace and mercy over their lives in the name of Christ our King.”

Franklin’s comments are included in a video of the 2019 awards available at tbn.org, which exceeds two hours in length by a minute and 34 seconds, but does not include commercials.

Franklin is not asking other gospel artists to join in the boycott, he said, and made the decision after consulting with others including GMA.

“After a meeting with the Dove Awards committee and representatives of TBN, I’ve made the decision after prayer, consultation with my team and my pastor Dr. Tony Evans, to not attend any events affiliated with or for the Dove Awards, Gospel Music Association or TBN,” Franklin said, “until tangible plans are put in place to protect and champion diversity, especially when people of color have contributed their gifts, talents and finances to help build the viability of these institutions.

“I am aware that the word boycott often has a negative connotation and finality to it,” he said, “but my goal will forever be reconciliation as well as accountability.”

After his comments were deleted in 2016, Franklin said, GMA also apologized.

“I made my frustration and disappointment known to the Dove Awards committee and to the Trinity Broadcasting Network,” Franklin said. “I never heard from TBN, and the Dove Awards committee promised to rectify the mistake so that it wouldn’t happen again. In 2019, history repeated itself.”

TBN did not respond to Baptist Press’ request for comments by press time.