Gospel music mainstay Kirk Franklin has announced he will boycott the Gospel Music Association Dove Awards, after discovering his acceptance speech at the Oct. 15 ceremony was edited for television.
Franklin says the edited version — which aired on Trinity Broadcasting Network — cut out his remarks on Atatina Jefferson, the 28-year-old who was shot and killed in her home by a Fort Worth police officer.
“I’m just asking that we send up prayers for her family, and for his,” he said from the podium that evening.
Franklin announced his boycott with a video message on Monday, adding that he’d come to the decision after meeting with the Dove Awards committee and TBN representatives.
He will boycott “any events affiliated with or for the Dove Awards, Gospel Music Association or TBN, until tangible plans are put in place to protect and champion diversity, especially where people of color have contributed their gifts, talents and finances to help build the viability of these institutions.”
Franklin said that this was the second time his speech at a Doves ceremony had been edited for television to remove a statement on officer-related shootings.
At the 2016 awards — following the killing of five police officers at a protest in Dallas — he said, “When police are killed, we need to say something. When black boys are killed, we need to say something. And when we don’t say something, we’re saying something.”
On Monday, Franklin said the goal of the boycott was “reconciliation and accountability.”
“It is important for those in charge to be informed, not only did they edit my speech, they edited the African-American experience.”
“I’m not asking those in the gospel community to follow my decision. No, this is my personal decision to take a stand, and hold responsible those in positions of power to acknowledge the issues in our separate communities that have existed from colonialism to Jim Crow.”
GMA President and Executive Director Jackie Patillo issued a public response Monday, saying the organization was “deeply apologetic for the missteps that happened relating to the editing of Kirk Franklin’s Dove Awards acceptance speech.”
Patillo said the organization had to “significantly edit” the show to fit a 2-hour broadcast window, leading to the absence of “many memorable moments and noteworthy portions of acceptance speeches.”
“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. 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.”
TBN has now uploaded a full cut of the 2019 Dove Awards to its website, which includes Franklin’s remarks in full. You can also see the full speech on the Doves’ official YouTube channel.