The Rev. Jasper Williams Jr. delivers the eulogy during the funeral service for Aretha Franklin at Greater Grace Temple on Aug. 31, 2018, in Detroit. Franklin died Aug. 16, 2018, of pancreatic cancer at age 76. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Aretha Franklin’s family says eulogy was offensive

NEW YORK (AP) — The late Aretha Franklin’s family said Monday (Sept. 3) that it found an Atlanta pastor’s eulogy delivered at the Queen of Soul’s funeral last week to be offensive and distasteful.

The eulogist, the Rev. Jasper Williams Jr., was criticized for a political address that described children being in a home without a father as “abortion after birth” and said black lives do not matter unless blacks stop killing each other. Franklin’s funeral was on Friday.

“He spoke for 50 minutes and at no time did he properly eulogize her,” said Vaughn Franklin, the late singer’s nephew, who said he was delivering a statement for the family.

Franklin said his aunt never asked Williams to eulogize her, since she didn’t talk about plans for her own funeral. The family selected Williams because he has spoken at other family memorials in the past, most prominently at the funeral for Franklin’s father, minister and civil rights activist C.L. Franklin, 34 years ago.

Williams has not backed down from anything he said at the funeral, and he said he respects the family’s opinion. “I understand it,” he said. “I regret it. But I’m sorry they feel that way.”

Besides a social media uproar, Williams heard resistance at the funeral itself. Singer Stevie Wonder yelled out “black lives matter” after the pastor said, “No, black lives do not matter” during his eulogy.

Williams had minimized the Black Lives Matter movement because of black-on-black crime. “Black lives must not matter until black people start respecting black lives and stop killing ourselves.”

He also said “there are not fathers in the home no more” and said that a black woman cannot raise a black boy to be a man. Some people suggested that was disrespectful of Aretha Franklin, a single mother of four boys.

His eulogy “caught the entire family off guard,” Vaughn Franklin said. The family had not discussed what Williams would say in advance, he said.

“It has been very, very distasteful,” he said.

He said it was unfortunate because everyone else who participated in the ceremony was very respectful.


  1. Between this and the bishop who felt up Ariana Grande, the funeral was not exactly a banner day for the clerical profession.

  2. So, who or what was this pastor knocking? Black men in general? Black women in general? Black children in general? Abortion in general? Black church in general? I can’t blame the family or anyone else for asking “What ARE you doing?” and “Why HERE and NOW at THIS gathering?”

  3. I lost a friend last year while we were living in southern California. The memorial service was the first time I’d been to an African-American church. I don’t hear, so I couldn’t tell what was being said, but I saw many people stand up and speak, some from the pulpit, many from the floor. And everyone there listened to them more patiently than we Catholics listen to sermons that go on more than ten or twelve minutes. I think we can learn a lesson from African-American churches, namely, that wisdom is not confined to the clergy, or even to those with whom we agree. I think our professional, often sanitized homilies often say little about the experience of real men and women. Sometimes the truth only emerges when we’re willing to hear voices we normally drown out.

  4. Clerics are salaried to teach mythology. Some are better than others. They only need to show love the Queen of Soul.

  5. Sorry, Franklin family, it is what it is.

    Reverends Sharpton and Dyson got lots of cheers for doing identity-politics (and more than a little hateful & mean-spirited about it) instead of staying focused on the great singer’s life.

    Meanwhile, you got Farrakhan up there on stage — automatic red flag period — plus Slick Willie whose eyes were all glazed on the back of Ariana”s wild party dress. (And even poor Bishop Ellis didn’t quite make it past Ariana.)

    So yeah, given all THAT stuff, you could actually do a LOT worse than an old-fashioned black Bible preacher who publicly insists that black folks stop playing all these games, and start taking personal responsibility for their own community and problems.

  6. Start taking responsibility for people getting groped without consent.

  7. Certainly not for whatever team those particular clerics are on.

  8. I’m right about lots of things.

    How much is the KKK paying you to lynch gay and trans people in your own community? You’re doing their dirty work for them, so they don’t have to lift a finger. #UncleTom

  9. Maybe they would have preferred if the good natured, down-home, good old-fashioned anti-Semite and racist Farrakhan had spoke instead?

    Based on what I read in this article, at least Williams was woke and provided some truth.

  10. Hmm. Try to give a person a break, and they’ll just jump right off the cliff with it!! C’est la vie.

  11. How much did the democrap senators pay street thugs to disrupt the kavanaugh hearings today?

    Stop trying to lynch Supreme Court justice nominees.

  12. No, I’m thinking of the lunatic who got her comment deleted for being violent.

  13. I’m honestly shocked to see any attempt made to moderate this forum whatsoever.

    How about we delete all of the Christians who told Jamel Myles to kill himself?

  14. I didn’t. I know how you are. Must’ve been someone else.

  15. I had no idea anyone ever moderated this forum at all.

  16. It’s not an either / or thing, dumbazz.

    Or how about this, someone who would have been respectful of the deceased, her family, and adoring public. How hard could that have been? Really?

    Between the eulogy and the groping bishop, clergy did not come off well at that funeral.

  17. At this funeral or at McCain’s; although I suspect you were all giddy about that one.
    The left is warped.

  18. Sorry, don’t speak wingnut. Didn’t get your reference there. Didn’t see anything about the McCain family being annoyed at the eulogy there. Of course your bullshifting always involves making crap up.

    I can understand why the McCain funeral annoyed you. The directive from the Orange One was that McCain was to be reviled and ridiculed as a matter of course. At this point its a given that you just follow along with whatever that dumpster fire of a chief executive does and says.

    I guess since it took attention away from Trump, it had you annoyed. Poor thing,

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