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Tyler Perry speech at 2019 BET Awards receives support, criticism

Tyler Perry won the Icon Award. Some loved his speech, others did not.

ATLANTA — A powerful speech given from the stage at the 2019 BET Awards Sunday night is both inspiring and infuriating people in Atlanta. 

Tyler Perry won the Icon Award during the show and talked about Tyler Perry Studios that he built in Atlanta on what was once Fort McPherson. Many loved the speech, others did not.

11Alive Anchor Shiba Russell tweeted she was inspired by Perry's words. 11Alive is the station Where Atlanta Speaks, and the comments started rolling in. Not everyone felt the same way.

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"When I built my studio, I built it in a neighborhood that's one of the poorest black neighborhoods in Atlanta, so that young black kids can see that a black man did that and they can do that, too. I was trying to help them cross," Perry proclaimed during the speech. "The studio was once a Confederate Army base, which means that there was once confederate soldiers, plotting and planning how to keep 3.9 million Negros enslaved. Now that land is owned by one negro. It's all about helping somebody cross."

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On Twitter, one person who goes by the name Pinky Swear said she lives in the neighborhood, and from her perspective, not one person there has received a job from the studio. She said the streets and roads haven't been fixed, and basically, Perry is in it for himself. 

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Another person on Twitter with the name "Yeah I said it" replied it was an under-the-table-deal, and nonprofits that should have been helped from the land purchase weren't, because the sale was rushed through. 

In 11Alive's own reporting in 2015, when the deal was announced, people who live in the area described themselves as feeling resigned to the studio construction in Southwest Atlanta.

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Tyler Perry did not respond directly to the criticism. But the McPherson Implementing Local Redevelopment Authority was created after the sale, and its staff said there is plenty going on in the area to help people who live there. 

According to its mission, 20 percent of the housing it builds there will be affordable for residents. Also, Governor Brian Kemp put construction for a training facility for blue-collar workers in his 2020 budget. 

The Redevelopment Authority said it is listening closely to the concerns of the people who live there. Another meeting to hear directly from residents about what they want to see in the area will be held Wednesday night at 5:30 at the Fort MAC LRA.

RELATED: 'I love you, I thank God for you.' | Tyler Perry makes gospel singer's mother's final wish come true


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