Gospel star Kirk Franklin said he will boycott the Gospel Music Association’s annual Dove Awards after comments he made about Atatiana Jefferson — a 28-year-old black woman killed in her home by a white police officer — were cut from this year’s broadcast.
The Dove Awards took place October 15th, but aired October 20th on the Trinity Broadcasting Network. While accepting the award for Gospel Artist of the Year, Franklin paid tribute to Jefferson, who was killed while at home with her eight-year-old nephew after a Forth Worth, Texas, police officer fired a bullet through the window while responding to a call from a neighbor (the officer, Aaron Y. Dean, has since resigned and been arrested and charged with murder).
During the part of his speech that was edited, Franklin said, “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. 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 eight-year-old little boy that saw that tragedy.”
On Monday, Franklin posted a video on Facebook claiming that this was the second time a speech of his at the Dove Awards speech had been edited while he discussed police brutality. He said in 2016, also while accepting Gospel Artist of the Year, his comments about Philando Castile and Walter Scott were cut; at the time, he voiced his complaints to TBN and the Dove Awards committee, and while the former never responded to him, Franklin said the latter promised such an incident wouldn’t happen again.
In response the second incident, Franklin said, “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. I am aware that the word boycott often has a negative connotation and finality to it, but my goal will forever be reconciliation as well as accountability. It is important for those in charge to be informed that not only did they edit my speech, they edited the African American experience.”
As Billboard reports, Gospel Music Association president Jackie Patillo issued an open letter to Franklin, apologizing and acknowledging “missteps” in the editing. “We accept the responsibility of our error,” Patillo 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. 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.”
The Gospel Music Association has since made Franklin’s full speech available online, while TBN has also made the unedited version available to watch via on-demand services. Patillo also said that members of the GMA board and executives met with Franklin and his team to discuss “solutions that we are currently working to implement moving forward.”
A representative for Franklin did not immediately return Rolling Stone‘s request for comment regarding Patillo’s apology. A representative for the Gospel Music Association also did not immediately return Rolling Stone‘s request for comment.