The family of Aretha Franklin has slammed Rev. Jasper Williams Jr. for his racially charged eulogy in which he said “Black lives do not matter” and single Black moms cannot successfully raise Black boys.
On Monday, the Queen of Soul’s nephew Vaughn Franklin issued a statement which called Williams Jr.’s eulogy “offensive and distasteful,” reported CNN.
“[He] spent more than 50 minutes speaking and at no time did he properly eulogize her,” the statement read. “We feel that Rev. Jasper Williams, Jr. used this platform to push his negative agenda, which as a family, we do not agree with.”
On Friday, Franklin was laid to rest at Detroit’s Greater Grace Temple. During the star-studded ceremony, which included speeches by Bill Clinton, Michael Eric Dyson, and Al Sharpton, Williams’s Jr. strayed away from Franklin’s life and bashed the Black community.
"If you choose to ask me today 'Do Black lives matter?' let me answer like this: No, Black lives do not matter. 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, Black lives can never matter," he said.
Williams Jr. then went on to say single mothers are incapable of properly raising a boy.
"A Black woman cannot raise a Black boy to be a man,” he said.
"Right in your own neighborhoods, where your church is, there are struggling single moms, that don't know what to do. That needs a man in the house through mentoring programs and parenting our children, we can turn Black America around.
Franklin, whom had her first child at the age of 12, was the single mother to four sons.
Vaughn Franklin said that his aunt did not specifically ask Williams Jr. to deliver the eulogy because “dying is a topic that she never discussed with anyone.” However, the Atlanta pastor delivered the eulogy for Franklin’s father C.L. Franklin in 1984, as well as her brother and sister, thus his familiarity with the Franklins seemed like a good idea.
"However, there were several people that my aunt admired that would have been outstanding individuals to deliver her eulogy including Dr. William J. Barber, Rev. Al Sharpton, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, Rev. James Holley and Pastor E.L. Branch,” Vaughn said.
While Williams Jr. did say he “understands” and “regrets” his words, he does not intend to apologize or redact the remarks, reported the New York Daily News.
“I’m sorry they feel that way,” he said in a news conference.
When asked if he thought Franklin would have approved of the eulogy, Williams Jr. said, “Because of the great contributor that she was to the civil rights movement and all that she gave, I would think that if I'm doing something to turn Black America around, that she would be pleased."