Earlier this week, Christian artist Kirk Franklin called for a boycott of the GMA (Gospel Music Association’s) Dove Awards after part of his acceptance speech — where he requested prayers for Atatiana Jefferson and her grieving family — was cut out. Artists and fans have come out in droves to support him and condemn the network’s censorship.
This past Sunday, the 50th Annual GMA Dove Awards — an annual show that honors achievements in the Christian music industry, took place in Nashville’s Allen Arena. Franklin, who has been nominated for over a dozen Dove Awards, took home the “Artist of the Year” and gave a compelling speech on stage.
But on Monday, Franklin took to social media to call out the GMA, the Dove Awards and the Trinity Broadcasting Network who aired it for cutting his acceptance speech short during the official broadcast. While accepting his award, the Fort Worth native says he had acknowledged the recent murder of 28-year-old killed there saying, “A young girl by the name of Atatiana Jefferson was shot and killed in her home by a policeman and I am just asking that we send up prayers for her family and for his, and asking that we send up prayers for that 8-year-old little boy that saw that tragedy.”
His sentiments didn’t make the final airing. In response, Franklin posted a video explaining his thoughts.
In it, Franklin explains that this is not the first time the Dove Awards have censored his words regarding black victims of police brutality to which he says, “not only did they edit my speech, they edited the African American experience.” In 2016, he talked about the murders of Philando Castile and Walter Scott on stage but his comments about them didn’t make it to the broadcast then either. He goes on to say that the GMA promised it wouldn’t happen again, but now that it has Franklin is boycotting all affiliated parties “until tangible plans are put in place to protect diversity.”
The GMA later updated and uploaded Franklin’s full speech to YouTube.
Since posting his call-out video, it has received over 20,000 shares and loads of support from other artists alike. Celebrities like gospel rappers Lecrae and Aaron Cole, Christian artist Natalie Grant, and radio personality Ricky Smiley have spoken up in agreement with Franklin’s stance. Lecrae, known to speak out about racial injustices responded to Franklin’s post: “I only came cause you came. You know I’m out,” he said. Grant, who’s also won multiple Dove Awards, said, “Love and respect you so much. Thank you for using your platform to speak truth in love, and always with a spirit of humility. You’re consistently calling us toward unity.” Cole, who was named Best New Artist at this year’s Doves also chimed in — “We out then,” he wrote.
Gospel star Todd Dulaney has also came out and said, “I’ve felt the same way about this organization since the first time I was apart [of it]… and it wasn’t until this year that my wife and I made the decision that we would rather not be [a part] of anything that they are doing.” Other supporters include two-time Dove Winner Marvin Sapp, “American Idol” alum Jordin Sparks, Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child, R&B artist Luke James, TV star Niecy Nash, Grammy-nominated singer Ledisi and a host of fans. One user saying, “I just watched my last TBN show.”
Yesterday, the GMA president Jackie Patillo released a statement issuing an apology to both Franklin and his supporters saying that they had to edit the show down to fit their two-hour broadcast window. She says they “accept the responsibility” of their 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. 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.”
As Billboard reports, members of the GMA board and executives are in talks with Franklin and reps on a solution that they will be “working to implement moving forward.”
SOURCE: Yahoo News, Kamilah Newton