Frequent Dove Award winner Kirk Franklin announced this week he is boycotting the Gospel Music Association and Trinity Broadcasting Network after the awards ceremony broadcast was edited to remove mentions of racial injustice from his speeches in 2016 and earlier this month.
GMA removed Franklin’s comments about the killing of Atatiana Jefferson, a black woman shot and killed in her home in Fort Worth, Texas, by a white police officer. Similarly, in 2016, the Christian artist’s mention of the killings of black men Philando Castile and Walter Scott by white police officers as well as the killing of five white Dallas police officers by a black sniper were removed from the broadcast. During both years, Franklin was accepting the award for Gospel Artist of the Year.
“My goal will forever be reconciliation as well as accountability,” Franklin said of his decision to boycott TBN, GMA, and the Dove Awards. “It is important for those in charge to be informed. Not only did they edit my speech, they edited the African-American experience.”
Franklin was met with quite a bit of support on his Instagram page. Fellow Christian artists like Lecrae, Tauren Wells, Jeremy Camp, Jamie Grace Harper, and Natalie Grant expressed support for the 49-year-old entertainer’s decision.
Other Christian Artists speak out
“This breaks my heart and hits home more than you know. Your music blessed my childhood, your humility blessed me as an artist upon meeting you, and your words continue to bless me,” wrote Harper. “This may not have been an easy video to make but it is much needed. Praying for you and your family and team today.”
Grant praised Franklin for using his platform “to speak truth in love” and for “always” embracing “a spirit of humility.” She also thanked him for “consistently calling” believers toward “unity.”
“I only came cause you came,” commented Lecrae. “You know I’m out.”
The lone voice of dissent was Mandisa Hundley. In her comment to Franklin, she wrote she “was actually moved by the unity I saw on display.”
“From seeing CeCe Winans, Amy Grant, Steven Curtis Chapman, and Michael W. Smith worshipping together, to seeing my boy Aaron Cole (a hip-hop artist) win best new artist,” Hundley continued, “I actually felt that the enemy was losing ground in his fight for division in the body of Christ.”
The “Overcomer” singer concluded by writing she knows GMA president Jackie Patillo and stating she believes God will use Franklin’s boycott “for good.” Hundley ended her comment by noting she is “standing and praying with” Franklin.
GMA Responds to Franklin
Patillo penned an apology letter to Franklin, which was posted Monday to the GMA website. In it, she explained the organization had to “significantly edit” the Dove Awards broadcast in order to fit in the 2-hour time slot granted by TBN. As a result, she wrote, “many memorable moments and noteworthy portions of acceptance speeches” were removed from the final cut aired on television.
“With that said, we 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,” she wrote, adding she understands why the “unintentional” error “caused great harm and deeply wounded many in the African American and Gospel community.”
Patillo went on to say GMA board members and executives “are currently working” to implement solutions to the issues highlighted by Franklin’s boycott. In the meantime, the faith-based organization published the recording artist’s full acceptance speech to YouTube.
“Our heart is to showcase that unity and the Gospel message to a broken and divided world,” she wrote. “Let us continue to strive to be a light in the darkness and come together to raise the banner of Jesus Christ.”