by G. Brown
Kirk Franklin’s voice can be heard over gospel radio stations all across the country with hit songs like “Imagine Me”, “Lean On Me” and “Now Behold the Lamb”. The choir director, musician, singer and songwriter helped revolutionize the genre by steering away from the old hymnal sound and ushering in a more urban, contemporary sound.
For two decades, Franklin has dominated gospel music and his achievement has earned him praise from the secular side of the industry with 13 Grammy Awards, an American Music Awards. On the Christian side of the aisle, Franklin has earned 23 Stellar Awards and 21 Dove Awards. Franklin even served as host of Gospel Music Association’s(GMA) coveted Dove Award’s in 2013.
While the Dove Awards has applauded Franklin’s singing voice for two decades, the awards show’s censoring of his voice as a Black activist leaves the singer saying it’s “More Than I Can Bear”.
Rolling Stone says “Franklin 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.”
This year’s award aired on the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) earlier this month but edited out Franklin’s tribute to Jefferson who was killed in her own home after a police officer shot through her window while responding to a call at another home. Jefferson was babysitting her eight-year-old nephew when the stray bullet hit and killed her.
Franklin’s tribute simply asked, “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.” No cries of Black Lives Matter…no rant making police out to be bloodthirsty killers…but enough to make the network or the show pull Franklin’s comments.
Franklin posted a Facebook saying this was the second time the awards show edited one of his speeches addressing police brutality and the Black community, but apparently it will the last time. Franklin says, “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, but they also edited the African American experience.”
How Christians respond to personal battles in the world has always been a tight rope balancing act. Many criticized Brandt Jean for hugging the police officer who shot and killed his brother. Amber Guyger killed Botham Jean as he sat in his own apartment saying she thought she was in her apartment. The judge in the case even hugged Guyger after she was sentenced to 10 years. Many saw the hugs as the teachings of Christ personified. Others saw it not forgiveness, but comprise. As Christians yet again being weak and letting people walk all over them.
Franklin managed to stand up for his principles without violating his Christian beliefs. He didn’t act out of anger, though he may have been, but out of principle.
The GMA issued an apology to Franklin and has since made his full speech available to online viewers. TBN has also posted a full version of the for on-demand viewing. People will probably condemn him for threatening a boycott that many see as pointless, but Franklin used his power to force change.
The Dove Awards and TBN could repeat its sins next year, but Franklin reminds friends that turning the other cheek isn’t the only recourse for Christians. Sometimes you have to turn over a few tables in the marketplace to get people’s attention.
Watch Franklin’s full comments below and give us your comments on why you think the network and GMA allowed it to be cut from the broadcast…