Aretha Franklin’s Family Criticizes Atlanta Pastor For “Distasteful” Eulogy

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The Atlanta pastor who delivered Aretha Franklin’s eulogy offended her family with his controversial speech. Rev. Jasper Williams Jr.’s remarks during the homegoing ceremony were “distasteful” and offensive, Franklin’s nephew told the Associated Press on Monday (Sept. 3).

“He spoke for 50 minutes and at no time did he properly eulogize her,” said Vaughn Franklin, who told AP that he was speaking on the family’s behalf. Vaughn added that Williams’s eulogy “caught the family off guard,” as there had been no prior discussions on what he would be speaking about. Williams, a pastor at Atlanta’s Salem Bible Church, also spoke at Franklin’s father’s funeral in 1984.

Instead of keeping the focus on The Queen of Soul’s legacy, Williams’s eulogy quickly morphed into a diatribe of his views on the black community. Williams declared that single mothers (like Franklin) are not equipped to raise black men, he also made erroneous claims about black-on-black crime (a talking point that has been disproven time and again) and declared that black lives “don’t matter” — the latter of which drew the ire of Stevie Wonder who swiftly hit back during his performance tribute to Franklin. Before wrapping up, Williams encouraged bi-partisanship and ended his speech by calling for the “gays” and “straights” to learn to love each other. The eulogy was widely criticized as homophobic, misogynistic and anti-black.

Williams initially defended his comments, explaining that some of his words were taken out of context and that his intent was to show that “the movement now is moving and should move in a different direction.”

In response to the family ’s critique, Williams said that he understands their feelings. “I regret it. I’m sorry they feel that way.”

Watch the controversial eulogy down below.

READ MORE: Aretha Franklin: The Queen Of America’s Soul (VIBE Cover Story)