Gospel Music Association president Jackie Patillo has issued a full-throated apology to Kirk Franklin and others left disappointed by the editing of speeches during the broadcast of the 50th Annual Dove Awards.
On Monday (Oct. 28), Franklin said he would boycott the Dove Awards and the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) after claiming his acceptance speeches were censored when he spoke of police brutality in the black community.
During the 50th annual gala, Franklin called for prayers after the police shooting of a youngster in his hometown of Fort Worth, Texas earlier in this month.
“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 8-year-old little boy that saw that tragedy,” Franklin said after winning gospel artist of the year.
But those comments didn’t make the final cut.
“Not only did they edit my speech, they edited the African American experience,” said Franklin, who won the same award three years earlier and discussed racial injustice in a speech which was also edited from the TBN telecast.
Responding, Patillo admitted “missteps” occurred in cutting the 2019 broadcast to fit the two-hour telecast, but steered well clear of any suggestion of censorship.
“We accept the responsibility of our error,” Patillo explains. “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 are in talks with Franklin and reps on a solution “that we are currently working to implement moving forward,” the statement continues.
It’s unclear how the solution could play out, but in the meantime, Patillo notes, TBN has made the unedited version available on its on-demand platform and winners’ acceptance speeches have been made available online and in full.
Read Patillo’s letter below.
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.