Aretha Franklin’s family have blasted the eulogy delivered by Rev. Jasper Williams Jr. at the singer’s funeral on Friday, calling it “distasteful”.
The Atlanta pastor courted controversy during his 50-minute eulogy in Detroit, Michigan on Friday when he declared that “black lives do not matter” until black people stop killing each other, and described children being brought up in a home without a father as “abortion after birth”, which was considered disrespectful to the Queen of Soul, who was a single mother to four boys.
Franklin’s family has now spoken out to blast the eulogy, with nephew Vaughn Franklin delivering a statement on their behalf to the Associated Press on Monday in which he described it as offensive and distasteful.
“He spoke for 50 minutes and at no time did he properly eulogize her,” he said, later adding, “It has been very, very distasteful.”
The singer, who passed away at the age of 76 earlier in August, didn’t talk about her funeral plans, so she never personally asked for Williams to deliver the eulogy. However, the family chose him because he had spoken at other family memorials in the past, including Aretha’s father C.L. Franklin, 34 years ago.
Vaughn said the eulogy “caught the entire family off guard” because they had not discussed what he would say in advance, and it was unfortunate because everyone else who spoke or performed at the ceremony had been respectful.
During his eulogy, Williams minimised the Black Lives Matter movement by saying, “Black lives must not matter until black people start respecting black lives and stop killing ourselves.”
His declaration caused uproar on social media, while others attending the funeral voiced their disapproval, with Stevie Wonder yelling, “Black lives matter!”
In response to the family’s statement, Williams told the Associated Press, “I understand (their opinion)… I regret it. But I’m sorry they feel that way.”
Williams had defended his sermon to the agency over the weekend, saying it felt right and he would have delved deeper into why Aretha was the Queen of Soul if he had been given more time.