This week, Jackie Patillo, the President and Executive Director of the Gospel Music Association, released a statement regarding the now controversial editing of Kirk Franklin's recent Dove Awards speech. Franklin was named Gospel Artist of the Year at the 50th Annual Dove Awards on October 15th. His 3-minute speech that followed touched on several topics including gratitude for the recognition, honoring his fellow nominees, and a moment of recognition and prayer surrounding the recent fatal shooting of 28-year-old African-American Atatiana Jefferson in her home by a white police officer in Franklin's hometown of Fort Worth, TX. The edited version of Franklin's speech that aired on TBN on October 20th did not include any mention of the latter and immediately sparked concerns and critiques about the nature of the editing of his speech.
In an Instagram video post announcing his at least temporary boycott of TBN, GMA, and the Dove Awards, Franklin noted a similar controversy in 2016 when he commented on social justice issues at that time during his Dove Awards Gospel Artist of the Year winning speech. Franklin at that time called for unity in light of the civil unrest in the country following the tragic deaths of African-American men Philando Castile, Walter Scott and others by white police officers as well as the killing of five white Dallas police officers by an African-American man. The version of his 2016 speech that aired on TBN at the time also edited out any mention of these issues. “My goal will forever be reconciliation as well as accountability,” Franklin said during his Instagram post. “It is important for those in charge to be informed. Not only did they edit my speech, they edited the African-American experience.” You can see Kirk's full Instagram post and view Franklin's 2019 speech in its entirety here as well.
You can also read the full GMA statement below where Patillo explains that "many memorable moments and noteworthy portions of acceptance speeches" had to be edited due to time constraints with TBN. She apologies "for the missteps that happened" and promises "solutions that we are currently working to implement moving forward."
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,
[Photo via Terry Wyatt, Jason Davis, Jamie Gilliam and Grant Exline]