Kirk Franklin Boycotts the Dove Awards and TBN

Kirk Franklin announced his boycott of the Dove Awards. Watch the video.

Kirk’s Message to the Dove Awards Committee

Today, I feel like quitting. I am heartbroken that I even have to share this with you. In 2016, I was blessed to win an award for Best Gospel Artist at the Dove Awards. Many of you may not know the Dove Awards in comparison are the Christian Grammy’s like the Stella Awards or the Gospel Grammy’s.

For so long the terms “Christian” and “Gospel” for many are code words for white and black, which history may teach us was a setup for this unfortunate place we find ourselves in today. During that awards speech I felt the responsibility as a Christian and a man of color to address the civil unrest at that time that was plaguing our country with the killings of Orlando Castille and Walter Scott to name a few by white police officers. And at the same time, the horrific killings of five Dallas police officers by an African American. I called upon the audience to join me in remembering that as Christians when we say nothing we’re saying something.

After a standing ovation we prayed and stood in unity for all of the families affected by those tragedies. We all felt that at that moment there was a shift in the climate of our separate worlds. Unfortunately, when that speech aired on the Christian network, TBN, that part of my speech was 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 Award Committee promised to rectify the mistake so that it wouldn’t happen again.

In 2019, history repeated itself. I was humbled to win the same award, and during my speech, I brought attention to the murder of Atatiana Jefferson in her home by a white police officer. I asked everyone in the audience and those viewing to join me in prayer for not only Atatiana’s family, including her 8 year old nephew who witnessed the killing, but also for the family of the police officer. Last week during the airing of the awards on the same network, again, that part of my speech was edited out.

So now, after meeting with the Dove Awards Committee and representatives of TBN, I’ve made the decision after prayer, consultation with my team and my pastor Dr. Tony Evans, to not attend any events affiliated with of 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. I am aware that the word boycott has a negative connotation and finality to it, but my goal will for there ever be reconciliation as well as accountability. It is important that those in charge to be informed that not only did they edit my speech, they edited the African American experience.

I’m not asking those in the gospel music community to follow my decision. No. This is my personal choice to take a stand and hold responsible those in positions of power to acknowledge the separate communities that have existed from colonialism to Jim Crowe. To many of the issues facing us today, I pray there would be a significant change from this hurtful experience. I look with anticipation for that day of healing, and I am committed to contributing to that process. In the end, we will not remember the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.

The GMA Dove Awards Committee Response

On the heels of the 50th Annual Dove Awards Celebration, I want to thank everyone who came and helped us fulfill our mission to spread the Gospel through music for all the world to see! Our mission to expose, promote and celebrate the Gospel through music includes representing our artists and giving them a platform to share their voice with a worldwide audience.

Due to our broadcast window, we had to significantly edit the Dove telecast to 2 hours, which aired Sunday, October 20th. In light of this, we understand that many were disappointed because there were so many memorable moments and noteworthy portions of acceptance speeches absent.

Specifically, we were made aware of troubling concerns regarding the edit of Kirk Franklin’s acceptance speech. At the request of Kirk’s team, we held our response regarding those concerns until we were able to speak with Kirk privately, apologize directly, and discuss resolutions to rectify this unfortunate issue.

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. 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.

Members of the GMA board and executives spoke with Kirk and his team this past Friday to discuss solutions that we are currently working to implement moving forward. We will be highlighting those initiatives at a future date. Joining our efforts, TBN has made the unedited version available on their VOD platform. You can watch it here. Additionally, all of our winners have received their full acceptance speeches to post and share on their platforms as desired.

In recent years we have worked hard to ensure that The Dove Awards stage is a platform that promotes unity and celebrates God’s diverse Kingdom. Our heart is to showcase that unity and the Gospel message to a broken and divided world. Let us continue to strive to be a light in the darkness and come together to raise the banner of Jesus Christ.

To God Be the Glory,

Jackie Patillo (President & Executive Director Gospel Music Association)

Watch Kirk’s Full Acceptance Speech

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