Duck Dynasty will resume filming in the new year – with Phil Robertson.
A&E Networks – which had earlier suspended the family’s patriarch after he expressed anti-gay beliefs and made statements about pre-Civil War African-Americans in an interview with GQ magazine – released a statement Friday saying that it has decided to resume filming later this spring “with the entire Robertson family.”
Revealing that they had spoken to the family, A&E said that while they do not share Robertson’s views, “Duck Dynasty is not a show about one man’s views. It resonates with a large audience because it is a show about family a family that America has come to love.”
“While Phil’s comments made in the interview reflect his personal views based on his own beliefs, and his own personal journey, he and his family have publicly stated they regret the ‘coarse language’ he used and the misinterpretation of his core beliefs based only on the article,” the statement continued. “He also made it clear he would ‘never incite or encourage hate.'”
The network also says it will air PSAs “promoting unity, tolerance and acceptance among all people.”
But the Reverend Jesse Jackson, who slammed Robertson for his comments in the GQ interview about African-Americans, “is disappointed” by A&E’s “quick turnaround” on the suspension.
Jackson had previously called A&E to voice his concerns after Robertson claimed that the Jim Crow era in the South wasn’t so bad for African-Americans.
“I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once,” he said in his controversial interview. Claiming that he worked in the cotton fields with them, he added, “They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’ – not a word!… Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”
Jackson said Robertson was “more offensive” than Rosa Parks’s bus driver, and Janice Mathis, VP of Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition, tells PEOPLE that the organization is disappointed that Robertson “did not have to sit out a single episode.”
“A&E hasn’t given sufficient consideration to how Americans see themselves today. Phil Robertson’s views are a throwback to a bygone era,” she said. “It’s disappointing to see a media company like A&E, despite pressures, give in to a segmented audience that doesn’t reflect mainstream America.”
“Reverend Jackson is disappointed, as are we all, that someone can characterize an entire group of people in ways that are untrue and unflattering, and return to the air so soon.”