A black gospel singer’s speech was edited to cut remarks on police brutality in America. It wasn’t the first time.
Gospel singer Kirk Franklin announced his boycott against the Dove Awards and the Trinity Broadcasting Network after the broadcaster censored Franklin’s award speech.
According to a lengthy Instagram video the singer posted Monday, TBN edited out the portion of Franklin’s speech in which he discussed police brutality against the black community.
Franklin won gospel artist of the year at the 50th Annual GMA Dove Awards held October 15 in Nashville. The awards show aired on TBN on October 20.
“During my speech, I brought attention the murder of Atatiana Jefferson in her home by a white police officer,” Franklin said in his Instagram video.
“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.”
Jefferson was playing video games with her nephew before she was shot by a police officer. A neighbor had noticed Jefferson’s door was open and asked police to conduct a welfare check.
After Franklin posted the video, the Gospel Music Association, which hosts the Dove Awards, issued an apology.
“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,” said Jackie Patillo, the association president, in an official statement.
“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.”
TBN, in joint efforts with the association, also published the unedited version of Franklin’s speech.
However, this is not the first time TBN edited out comments about police brutality in a Franklin speech.
In 2016, Franklin also won best gospel artist at the Dove Awards, which he said were, in comparison, “the Christian Grammys like the Stellar Awards are the gospel Grammys.”
“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 the unfortunate place we find ourselves in today,” said Franklin.
The 49-year-old artist had dedicated part of his speech to highlight the “civil unrest” at the time.
Feeling a responsibility to speak up “as a Christian and man of color,” Franklin spoke about the “killings of Philando Castille and Walter Scott” by white police officers. He also addressed the killings of five police officers by an African American.
After a standing ovation, everyone prayed for the families of the victims.
“We all felt that moment that there was a shift in the climate of our separate worlds,” Franklin said.
But when the speech was aired on TBN, that part of his speech was cut out.
After a meeting with the Dove Awards committee and TBN representatives, Franklin said he has decided 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.
“Not only did they edit my speech, they edited the African American experience,” Franklin said.
By Alaa Elassar, CNN