The Queen of Soul's family speaks out after Rev. Jasper Williams Jr.'s 50-minute speech ignites social media uproar.
Aretha Franklin's family was just as upset about Rev. Jasper Williams Jr.'s eulogy at her televised funeral last Friday as spectators commenting on social media were.
"We found the comments to be offensive and distasteful," the family told Reuters. "Rev. Jasper Williams spent more than 50 minutes speaking and at no time did he properly eulogize her."
The family added that they felt the Atlanta pastor used the "platform to push his negative agenda," which was largely focused on issues Williams believes are facing the African-American community. He argued "black America has lost its soul" and that black lives will not matter "until black people start respecting black lives and stop killing ourselves," then complained "there are not fathers in the home no more." He even said a black woman is incapable of raising a black boy to become a man, despite Aretha raising four boys her of own as a single mother.
In a statement to the Associated Press, the late singer's nephew, Vaughn Franklin, said the entire speech "caught the entire family off guard," and described it as "very, very distasteful."
"He spoke for 50 minutes and at no time did he properly eulogize her," Vaughn added.
The reverend, who is the pastor of Salem Bible Church in Atlanta, was not specifically requested by the singer he was eulogizing. He was picked by the Franklin family because he has spoken at other family members' memorials, including Aretha's father C.L. Franklin, a minister and civil rights activist. Williams defended his eulogy in an interview with the Associated Press on Sunday.
"I was trying to show that the movement now is moving and should move in a different direction," he said. "What we need to do is create respect among ourselves. Aretha is the person with that song 'R-E-S-P-E-C-T' that is laid out for us and what we need to be as a race within ourselves. We need to show each other that. We need to show each other respect. That was the reason why I did it."
Aretha, who earned the nickname the Queen of Soul during an illustrious singing career that stretched decades, passed away in her Detroit home on Aug. 16 after a battle with pancreatic cancer. She was 76.