Rev. Jasper Williams, Jr., delivers the eulogy during the funeral service for Aretha Franklin at Greater Grace Temple, Aug. 31, 2018, in Detroit. (AP/Paul Sancya)

Aretha Franklin’s family rebukes Reverend’s "distasteful" eulogy

Rev. Jasper Williams Jr. caused uproar with comments on gender roles, Black Lives Matter, black-on-black crime

Jon Blistein
September 5, 2018 5:30PM (UTC)

This article originally appeared on Rolling Stone.

The family of Aretha Franklin denounced Rev. Jasper Williams Jr.’s eulogy at the late singer’s funeral as “offensive and distasteful.”

Williams Jr. delivered a nearly 50-minute eulogy at Franklin’s service last Friday, causing an uproar on social media with comments about the Black Lives Matter movement, black-on-black crime and the roles of black men and women.


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Franklin’s nephew, Vaughn Franklin, issued a statement condemning Williams Jr.’s remarks on behalf of the family, saying, “Rev. Jasper Williams spent more than 50 minutes speaking and at no time did he properly eulogize [Aretha Franklin]. 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.”

The Franklin family said Williams Jr. was asked to speak at the funeral because he previously eulogized several members of the Franklin family, including Aretha Franklin’s father, minister and Civil Rights activist, C.L. Franklin.


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“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 said.

Williams Jr. made several incendiary remarks throughout his address, per The Associated Press. While urging absent fathers to return home, he claimed that a “black woman cannot raise a black boy to be a man,” while he later used the term “abortion after birth” to describe the notion of a child being raised without a mother and father. Elsewhere, he blamed integration and the Civil Rights movement for destroying black micro-economies, and he echoed conservative critiques of Black Lives Matter when he said, “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.”


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Williams Jr. has not apologized for his remarks despite the rebuke from Franklin’s family. According to Billboard, Williams Jr. said he respected the family’s opinion, adding, “I understand it. I regret it. But I’m sorry they feel that way.”


Jon Blistein

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