The family of Aretha Franklin has come out with harsh criticism of the eulogy delivered at the soul icon’s funeral by the Rev. Jasper Williams Jr., senior pastor of Salem Baptist Church.
The funeral for Franklin, who died Aug. 16 of pancreatic cancer, was held Friday at Detroit’s Greater Grace Temple. “In his eulogy, Williams spoke on the state of black America, saying it had lost its soul and that Franklin was calling on her race to turn its direction around,” CNN reports, noting that much of his focus was on black-on-black crime.
“If you choose to ask me today ‘do Black Lives Matter?’ let me answer like this: No, black lives do not matter,” Williams is quoted saying. “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 also referenced solo parenting, saying: “A black woman cannot raise a black boy to be a man.”
Williams added: “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. The Queen of Soul has spoken now, time now for black America to come back home.”
In a statement issued Monday on behalf of Franklin’s family, her nephew Vaughn Franklin said: “Rev. Jasper Williams spent more than 50 minutes speaking and at no time did he properly eulogize her. … We feel that Rev. Jasper Williams Jr. used this platform to push his negative agenda, which as a family, we do not agree with.” The family also called the comments “offensive and distasteful.”