The family of the late Aretha Franklin pushed back at the eulogy delivered by an Atlanta pastor at the Queen of Soul’s funeral last week, calling it offensive and distasteful.
At the Detroit funeral on Friday, the Rev. Jasper Williams Jr. delivered a political eulogy in which he described single mothers as incapable of raising sons by themselves, as the Detroit Free Press has reported. Williams went on to say that children who are raised in a home without a father are equivalent to “abortion after birth.”
In the speech delivered at Greater Grace Temple, Williams, who is African American, also criticized black-on-black crime, adding that black lives do not matter unless blacks stop killing each other. Social media uproar started instantly, but Williams was also the target of resistance at the funeral itself. Singer Stevie Wonder yelled out “black lives matter,” following the pastor’s remarks.
“He spoke for 50 minutes and at no time did he properly eulogize her,” said Vaughn Franklin, the late singer’s nephew, who said Monday he was speaking on behalf of the Franklin family.
Williams, the pastor of Salem Bible Church in Atlanta, had stood by his fiery speech, saying he felt it was appropriate and that the timing was right, given how other speakers addressed the Civil Rights Movement and President Donald Trump.
“I understand it,” he said. “I regret it. But I’m sorry they feel that way,” according to Time.
Franklin never asked Williams to eulogize her, her nephew said, adding that the late singer didn’t discuss plans for her own funeral, according to the statement printed by the Detroit Free Press. The family selected Williams because he has eulogized other family members in the past, most prominently Franklin’s father, minister and civil rights activist C.L. Franklin, who died 34 years ago.
“We feel that Rev. Jasper Williams, Jr. used this platform to push his negative agenda, which as a family, we do not agree with,” said Vaughn Franklin in the statement.
Franklin was a single mother to four children, which caused many to interpret his remarks as a dig toward the iconic singer.
“Here’s the root of what I’ve been talking about: In order to change America, we must change black America’s culture,” he said. “We must do it through parenting. In order for the parenting to go forth, it has to be done in the home. The home,” Williams said Friday.
Franklin said the eulogy caught the family by surprise, as they didn’t know what was going to be said in advance.
“It has been very, very distasteful,” he said.