Kirk Franklin announced his boycott of Dove Awards, GMA, or TBN events via an Instagram video on Monday. Instagram/Screen capture
NASHVILLE – Other musical artists have voiced their support for Gospel music notable Kirk Franklin, who on Monday released an Instagram video stating that he will be boycotting events “affiliated with or for” the Dove Awards, the Gospel Music Association (GMA), or Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) following the awards broadcasts deleting mentions of racial injustice from his acceptance speeches.
Franklin, the Dove Awards’ Gospel Artist of the Year who released his album “Long Live Love” in May 2019, feels the boycott necessary after an incident in 2016 was followed by a strikingly similar incident this year at the Dove Awards on Oct. 20.
In 2016, GMA deleted Franklin’s comments 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 on the broadcast of the 2016 Dove Awards on TBN.
“I called upon the audience to join me in remembering that as Christians, when we say nothing, we are saying something,” Franklin shared in his Instagram video.
He continued, “After a standing ovation, we stood in unity and prayed for all of the families affected by those tragedies. The way I felt in that moment that there was a shift in the climate of those separate worlds.”
Franklin also shared that after learning those comments were edited out, “I made my disappointment and frustration known to the Dove Awards committee and to the Trinity Broadcasting Network. I never heard from TBN, and the Dove Awards committee promised to rectify the mistake so that it wouldn’t happen again.”
This year, when Franklin gave a speech accepting the same award, he underscored the “murder of Atatiana Jefferson in her home by a white police officer.”
Franklin added, “I asked everyone in the audience and those viewing to join me in prayer not only for Atatiana’s family including her eight-year-old nephew who witnessed the killing, but also for the family of the police officer.”
Again, during the airing of his speech last week, he noticed that key portion was edited out.
Franklin shared that after meeting with the Dove Awards Committee and representatives of TBN, and after prayer and consultation with his team and pastor, Tony Evans, he will no longer be attending events associated with Dove Awards, TBN, or GMA “until tangible plans are put in place to champion diversity, especially where people of color have put their gifts, talents, and finances to help build the viability of these institutions.”
Noting that “boycott” is a word that has a “negative connotation and finality to it,” he assured his listeners that his end goal was “reconciliation as well as accountability.”
“It is important for those in charge to be informed, not only did they edit my speech, the edited the African American experience,” he said.
The GMA 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.”
Support and pushback
Despite Franklin going on record, saying, “I’m not asking those in the Gospel community to follow my decision. No, this is my personal choice to take a stand to hold responsible those in positions of power…,” many in the Gospel music community have decided to join him or expressed support for what he is doing.
“I only came [to the Doves] cause you came,” Lecrae, a Christian rap star who was named Artist of the Year at the GMA Dove Awards last year, responded in an Instagram comment on the video.
He continued, “You know I’m out.”
Dove’s Best New Artist, rapper Aaron Cole, echoed that sentiment when he wrote, “We out then.”
Two-time Dove winner Marvin Sapp commented, “I stand with you bro.”
“Love and respect your stance, respect, and character evidenced again by this,” singer Tauren Wells, who was named Best New Artist at the 2018 Doves, said. “Reconciliation is possible.”
“Love and respect you so much,” Contemporary Christian star Natalie Grant wrote. “Thank you for using your platform to speak truth in love, and always with a spirit of humility. You’re consistently calling us towards unity.”
Gospel star Todd Dulaney, rappers Tedashii and GAWVI, and contemporary Christian star Jeremy Camp also expressed support.
And while support poured in from those inside and outside the Gospel music community, fellow Doves winner Mandisa shared a different perspective.
After seeing Cole’s Best New Artist win, and the collaboration between CeCe Winans, Amy Grant, Steven Curtis Chapman, and Michael W. Smith, she noted, “I actually felt that the enemy was losing ground in his fight for division in the #BodyOfChrist.”
Mandisa added, “I know [Gospel Music Association president Jackie Patillo’s] heart, and I believe God will ultimately use this for good.”
Myriah Snyder serves as content editor of The Christian Index.