Aretha Franklin’s family was taken aback by Rev. Jasper Williams, Jr.’s eulogy for the late singer delivered at her funeral on Friday, August 31.
The Queen of Soul’s nephew, Vaughn Franklin, expressed the family’s reaction in a statement to the Detroit Free Press on Monday, September 3.
“I want to speak on behalf of the Franklin family as it relates to the comments that Rev. Jasper Williams, Jr. made on Friday during my aunt’s Celebration of Live service on Friday, August 31. We found the comments to be offensive and distasteful,” he remarked. “Rev. Jasper Williams spent more than 50 minutes speaking and at no time did he properly eulogize her. My aunt did not ask Rev. Jasper Williams, Jr. to eulogize her before she passed away because dying is a topic that she never discussed with anyone.”
“Our family asked Rev. Jasper Williams, Jr. to perform the eulogy because he eulogized our grandfather (Rev. C.L. Franklin), my aunt (Erma Franklin) and my uncle (Cecil Franklin),” the statement continued, “However, there were several people that my aunt admired that would have ben outstanding individuals to deliver her eulogy including Dr. William J. Barber, Rev. Al Sharpton, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, Rev. James Holley and Pastor E.L. Branch. We feel that Rev. Jasper Williams, Jr. used this platform to push his negative agenda, which as a family, we do not agree with.”
During his controversial eulogy, Williams discussed the Black Lives Matter movement and said, “Black lives must not matter until black people start respecting black lives and stop killing ourselves.” He added that “there are not fathers in the home no more” and shares his belief that black women cannot raise their sons to be men.
Franklin devotees took to Twitter to condemn Williams’ eulogy, which they thought criticized the “Respect” songstress, a single mom to four boys. “Imagine showing up at Aretha Franklin’s funeral to delver a whole ass eulogy in which you disrespect black mothers/single black mothers with some nursery rhyme sermon,” one user wrote on Friday. Added another: “This eulogy is disrespectful to her legacy. I’m upset.”
However, Williams defended his remarks during a press conference at his church on Sunday, September 2. “I tried to do the best that I could under the circumstances and situations. We all mess up sometimes,” he said, according to WSB-TV. “Sometimes you don’t preach as good as you know you can, and after sitting there seven hour, all the preach I had in me was gone and I just took the opportunity of doing the best that I could under the circumstances and situations I was in.”
Franklin was laid to rest on Friday at Greater Grace Temple in her hometown of Detroit, Michigan. She died on August 16 at 76 following a battle with pancreatic cancer.