Kirk Franklin said he’s boycotting the Dove Awards, as well as Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), because his speech which contained a part about police brutality was taken out.
Franklin won Gospel Artist of the Year at the 50th Annual GMA Dove Awards on Oct. 15 in Nashville, Tennessee, and during his speech he brought up Atatiana Jefferson, the 28-year-old black woman who was shot by a white police officer in her mother’s Fort Worth, Texas, home earlier this month.
A neighbor of Jefferson’s called the police after seeing her front door was open, and when Jefferson came to the window former officer Aaron Dean shot and killed her. Jefferson’s 8-year-old nephew was in the house at the time, and Dean has since been charged with murder.
“This past weekend, a young 28-year-old lady, a young girl by the name of Atatiana Jefferson, was shot and killed in her home by a policeman,” said Franklin during his acceptance speech. “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.”
But that part of the speech was nowhere to be found when the Dove Awards aired Oct. 20 on TBN, which Franklin addressed Monday on social media.
In the clip, the 49-year-old said the same thing happened to him in 2016 when he won gospel artist of the year at the Dove Awards and brought up Philando Castile and Walter Scott, who were both killed by police officers.
Franklin said despite receiving a standing ovation for that part of his 2016 speech, it was taken out when it aired on TBN. And after communicating his frustrations to the Dove Awards committee and the Christian network, the committee assured him it wouldn’t happen again. But TBN never responded to him.
And after portions of his 2019 speech were cut out, Franklin said it was time to take action.
“I have made the decision to not attend 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,” said Franklin.
“It is important for those in charge to be informed that not only did they edit my speech, they edited the African American experience,” he added.
Afterwards, Jackie Patillo, the Gospel Music Association president, issued an open letter to Franklin, as well as an apology.
“We accept the responsibility of our error,” she wrote. “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,” added Patillo. “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.”
Patillo also said GMA executives met with Franklin and his team to talk about “solutions that we are currently working to implement moving forward.”
The Gospel Association also put Franklin’s full 2019 Dove Award speech online, and TBN has placed it on-demand.