Rapper Lecrae, Marvin Sapp, contemporary Christian artist Natalie Grant and an avalanche of gospel and secular artists are voicing their support for Kirk Franklin’s boycott of TBN, the Gospel Music Association, and the Dove Awards until they address the musicians' diversity concerns.
The support comes after Franklin charged in a Monday video statement on Instagram that TBN removed parts of his acceptance speeches from his 2016 and 2019 appearances at Dove Awards shows which advocated for racial justice and reconciliation. He charged that when he approached representatives from all the organizations about the situation, he was not provided a satisfactory response. The GMA said in a statement that it's now working toward addressing Franklin’s concerns.
While Franklin said his decision to boycott the organizations was personal and he was not asking anyone else to join him, influential icons such as Lecrae, who has long been speaking out on issues of racial justice, quickly chimed in.
“I only came cause you came. You know I’m out,” Lecrae responded to Franklin’s post.
In 2015, Lecrae challenged his "white brothers and sisters" to explain why they never protest when he talks about issues like abortion or the Islamic State terror group, but usually express concern when he speaks out about racial injustice.
"I have historically posted things about abortion, Planned Parenthood, and my thoughts on that. I've sat down with leading thinkers and pastors. I've done videos, posted those videos. Talked about ISIS and the terror that is ISIS and how it has affected us all, it affected our Christian brothers and sisters throughout the world," said the rapper in the video posted to his Facebook page.
"In both of those instances I have received encouragement and people saying thank you for speaking about this. We appreciate this, specifically from my white brothers and sisters. But yet, when I've spoken out recently about what I see to be authoritative or racial injustice, there is this sentiment of what feels like hostility," he added.
Grant, who has won multiple Dove Awards, praised Franklin for “consistently calling us toward unity.”
“Love and respect you so much. Thank you for using your platform to speak truth in love, and always with a spirit of humility. You’re consistently calling us toward unity,” she said.
John Gray, senior pastor of Relentless Church in South Carolina, said: “You’ve been my brother since I was 22. I know exactly what you feel. I not only support you — I agree. The selective editing of your content — especially right now — cannot be overlooked. Change MUST HAPPEN NOW. I stand with you.”
YouTube star and Christian author Jefferson Bethke also praised Franklin for leading the charge on the issue.
“Thank you @kirkfranklin. Such powerful leadership and thank you for going before us showing so many behind you how. So touched by the zeal for justice while simultaneously articulating it with such clear grace, love, and spirit of hope. Learning from you. Thank you,” he said.
Jackie Patillo, president and executive director for the GMA, said in a statement shared with The Christian Post on Monday that they were working to address Franklin’s concerns.
“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,” Patillo said.
“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,” she added.