A nephew of the late soul singer Aretha Franklin said the Franklin family did not approve of the eulogy given by Rev. Jasper W. Williams, Jr. at Aretha’s star-studded, 8-hour funeral in Detroit on August 31.
Rev. Williams, pastor of Salem Baptist Church in Atlanta, knocked the Black Lives Matter movement which led demonstrations around the country in 2016 to protest white cops shooting unarmed Black men.
“Black lives must not matter until black people start respecting black lives and stop killing ourselves,” Williams said in an obvious reference to the thousands of unsolved murders of Black people in Chicago alone.
Williams also called for Black men to stop abandoning their families, saying women can’t raise boys to be men.
He called children raised in single mother households “abortion after birth”.
The controversy caused more grief for the Franklin family.
“He spoke for 50 minutes and at no time did he properly eulogize her,” said Vaughn Franklin, the late singer’s nephew, who spoke for the entire family.
Vaughn said Aretha never asked Williams to eulogize her nor did she plan her own funeral arrangements, as was widely reported.
Vaughn said the pastor’s eulogy “caught the entire family off guard,” and the eulogy was not discussed in advance. “It has been very, very distasteful,” he said, adding that his aunt Aretha was a single mother who raised 4 boys to adulthood.
But Rev. Williams did not back down in the face of controversy. “I understand it,” he said of the family’s response. “I regret it. But I’m sorry they feel that way.”
A spokesperson said the Franklin family asked Williams to speak because he gave the eulogy at the funeral of Aretha’s father C.L. Williams, 34 years ago.
Williams, who said, “there are not fathers in the home no more”, hopes the message in his eulogy will spark debate and create dialogue where there was none before.
Single motherhood and black-on-black crime are still taboo subjects in the Black community.