Last week, family and friends of Aretha Franklin gathered in Detroit to say their final goodbyes to the legendary Queen of Soul, following her longstanding battle with pancreatic cancer.
The ceremony featured a slew of musical guests, who honored the legendary singer through song, while others used their words to commemorate the songstress. However, toward the end of the service, many were repulsed by the eulogy delivered by Rev. Jasper Williams Jr., senior pastor of Salem Baptist Church.
In fact, Franklin’s family has since condemned Williams’ comments as “offensive and distasteful,” after he used the platform to tear down the black community.
“If you choose to ask me today ‘do Black Lives Matter?’ let me answer like this: No, black lives do not matter. Black lives will not matter. Black lives ought not matter. Black lives should not matter, black lives must not matter until black people start respecting black lives and stop killing ourselves, black lives can never matter,” he said.
“A black woman cannot raise a black boy to be a man,” he also said, adding a hot take about single moms, despite Franklin’s own history with raising four sons, one of which she had at the age of 12, CNN reports.
“Right in your own neighborhoods, where your church is, there are struggling single moms, that don’t know what to do. That needs a man in the house through mentoring programs and parenting our children, we can turn black America around,” he said. “The Queen of Soul has spoken now, time now for black America to come back home.”
But now, Franklin’s family is speaking out against the offensive message Williams delivered over the pulpit.
“Rev. Jasper Williams spent more than 50 minutes speaking and at no time did he properly eulogize her [Aretha Franklin],” Franklin’s nephew, Vaughn, said on behalf of the family. “We feel that Rev. Jasper Williams Jr. used this platform to push his negative agenda, which as a family, we do not agree with.”
“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,” Franklin said, despite Williams’ claim that Franklin had “chosen and trusted him to speak” at the homegoing service.
“However, there were several people that my aunt admired that would have been 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.”
Just before the family released their statement though, Williams addressed the backlash over his eulogy and doubled down on most of his points, claiming Franklin would be pleased.
“I’m talking about many single women struggling to raise their children and in the black community there is no mentoring for the children. And that when a boy is there, for example, and 70+% of our households are headed by our precious women and as precious, beautiful and proud as they are, they cannot teach a boy how to be a man,” he clarified of his controversial statement.
“So one of the ails and ills that we have in the African American community is that too many of our homes are headed by women without men in the house,” the pastor said. “But the women need help in their homes and our race needs to become sensitive to that to be able to do that,” he added, before addressing his Black Lives Matter hot take.
“I’m saying that when we as a race sit back and get mad, if a police officer kills one of us, and we don’t say anything when 100 of us are killed by us that something is wrong with that. I’m not saying that black lives do not matter in terms of the worth of a black life, but what I’m saying in essence is that it does not matter, ought not matter, should not matter, cannot matter until black people begin to — Aretha — R-E-S-P-E-C-T, respect black lives. Only then will black lives matter,” he said.
“Because of the great contributor that she was to the civil rights movement and all that she gave, I would think that if I’m doing something to turn black America around, that she would be pleased,” Williams added.