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Dallas native Kirk Franklin received the Outstanding Gospel award earlier this year at the NAACP Image Awards.EXPAND
Dallas native Kirk Franklin received the Outstanding Gospel award earlier this year at the NAACP Image Awards.
Kevin Winter/Getty

Gospel Singer Kirk Franklin Boycotts Awards After He Says They Censored His Speech About Police Brutality

Dallas gospel singer Kirk Franklin took to Instagram on Monday to explain his decision to stop attending the Dove Awards, a celebration of Christian music. Franklin describes the awards as "the Christian Grammys."

Franklin explains in the video that during the 2016 Dove Awards, he called out the "civil unrest" plaguing the country at the time with the killings of Philando Castile and Walter Scott by white police officers. He says he also called out the killings of five Dallas police officers by Micah Xavier Johnson, who was black.

"I called upon the audience to join me in remembering that as Christians when we say nothing, we're saying something," Franklin says in the Instagram video.

When his acceptance speech aired on the Christian network TBN, however, he says his call-out was edited out. He says he made his disappointment known and the Dove Awards promised it wouldn't happen again.

"In 2019, history repeated itself," he says in the video.

Franklin won another award in 2019 and in his speech, he says he brought attention to the murder of Atatiana Jefferson, the black woman shot in her home by a white police officer. Again, he says that part of his speech was edited out.

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"I have made the decision after prayer, consultation with my team and my pastor, Dr. Tony Evans, to not attend any events affiliated with 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," Franklin says in the video.

Franklin explained at the beginning of the video that the Dove Awards celebrates Christian music, while the Stellar Awards celebrates gospel music, and "Christian" and "gospel" are typically synonymous with "white" and "black," respectively. He believes that might be why he was censored during the broadcast at the Dove Awards.

He says he's not asking others in the gospel community to follow his decision. But Christian rapper Lecrae posted his own video in response to Franklin's claims and says he won't participate in the Dove Awards either.

The Dove Awards posted a statement on Twitter where they apologized and linked to a video where Franklin's full acceptance speech can be heard.

"We accept the responsibility of our error," the statement reads. "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."

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