Family, friends, politicians, fans and dignitaries gathered in Detroit on Friday (Aug. 31) in honor of the one and only Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. From her stunning gold casket, to the hundreds of flowers adorning the 4,000-seat Greater Grace Temple, Aretha Franklin’s homegoing celebration was a beautiful production fit for a queen.
Rather than mourning a loss, Franklin’s funeral celebrated her life and legacy, personal and professional milestones and how much she loved her family.
Whoopi Goldberg, Jesse Jackson, Bill Clinton, Al Sharpton, Cicely Tyson, Louis Farrakhan, Gladys Knight, Clive Davis, Tyler Perry, Maxine Waters, Stevie Wonder, former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Smokey Robinson, Chaka Khan, Ariana Grande, Isaiah Thomas, Faith Hill, Pastor Shirley Ceasar, Fantasia, and Jennifer Hudson were included among the attendees, performers and speakers.
The music legend’s granddaughter and other loved ones shared personal memories of her, most of which centered around her generosity and ability to make everyone feel like they were her “favorite.”
As Jesse Jackson stated, Franklin’s relationship with civil rights was shaped by being born in the segregated South in 1942, at a time when blacks were constant targets of white supremacist violence.
“She was 13 when Emmett Till was lynched,” Jackson said. “She had money and could not buy ice cream. She had a car and could not stop to buy gasoline. Aretha came out of the bowels of our struggle.”
The Detroit native was quietly generous, often making donations under the radar and using her talent and resources for activism. Franklin, for example, embarked on an 11-city tour to raise money for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., offered to post bail for Angela Davis, paid college tuition for students, and even covered funeral costs for others.
Though beloved by the world, Franklin was even more adored by her family. “I’m sad today ’cause I’m losing my friend, but I know the imprint she left on this world can never be removed,” her grandson, Jordan Franklin, said while fighting back tears. “I know you’ll be watching me from the windows of heaven…Long live the Queen.”
See photos from Franklin’s funeral below.
Rev. Jesse Jackson, Min. Louis Farrakhan, Michael Eric Dyson