Mike Huckabee Resigns From Country Music Association Board One Day After Joining
Less than one day after his appointment was announced, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has resigned from the CMA Foundation board of directors following a hailstorm of criticism from members of the country music industry.
The CMA Foundation is the charitable arm of the Country Music Association dedicated to putting music education in schools, something that Huckabee had been a longtime champion of. However, his conservative politics proved to be too much for many in Nashville to tolerate.
According to the Tennessean, several prominent music executives threatened an outright boycott of the CMA as a result of the appointment, citing not only Huckabee's exclusionary stance on the LGBT community but also his involvement with the NRA.
Jason Owen, co-president of Monument Records and owner of Sandbox Entertainment, which represents artists including Little Big Town, Faith Hill and Midland, said it was a "grossly offensive decision" and noted that none of his companies or the artists he represents would support the foundation if Huckabee were to remain on board.
Country music fans also responded on social media, many of whom offered up their own threats to boycott the CMA, the CMA Music Festival and country music altogether.
CMA Foundation Chairman Joe Galante explained in a statement that Huckabee was elected to the position because the CMA Foundation could benefit from the knowledge gained during Huckabee’s extensive political career.
“Gov. Huckabee led an impressive administration while serving the state of Arkansas and his policy experience with education reform is something we are fortunate to be able to learn from,” Galante said.
Huckabee's appointment was announced, along with singer Chris Young, on Feb. 28. To date, the CMA Foundation has invested over $20 million in 84 programs across the national public school system, after-school programs, summer camps and through community outreach organizations.
In his resignation letter, obtained by the Tennessean, Huckabee — who is a longtime advocate for school music programs — expressed a mixture of sadness and anger over the uproar that arose from his election to the board.
"I hope this will end the unnecessary distraction and deterrent to the core mission of the Foundation which is to help kids acquire musical instruments and have an opportunity to participate in music programs as students," he writes in part. "I have no expectation that it will change the irrational vitriol directed toward you or me for my religious or political views that necessitated my abrupt departure, but I want you to know what you would never know by reading intolerant and vicious statements on the internet about who I am or what led me to want to be a part of your efforts to empower kids with the gift of music."
Huckabee goes on to say that music changed his life after he got his first guitar at age 11. The empowerment that provided helped him become the first male in the history of his family to graduate high school.
"I was especially baffled that I was accused of not being supportive of public education. I am the PRODUCT of public education," he states, citing a long list of public education and arts programs that he spearheaded as the governor of Arkansas.
"Until recently, the arts was the one place America could set aside political, geographical, racial, religious, and economic barriers and come together. If the arts community becomes part of the polarization instead of bridging communities and people over the power of civil norms as reflected in the arts, then we as a civilization may not be long for this earth," Huckabee adds. "I hope that the music and entertainment industry will become more tolerant and inclusive and recognize that a true love for kids having access to the arts is more important than a dislike for someone or a group of people because of who they are or what they believe."
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