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Aretha's Family: Pastor's Eulogy Was 'Very Distasteful'

Rev. Jasper Williams Jr. spoke for 50 minutes
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 4, 2018 8:07 AM CDT
In this Aug. 31, 2018, file photo, the Rev. Jasper Williams, Jr., delivers the eulogy during the funeral service for Aretha Franklin at Greater Grace Temple, in Detroit.   (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

(Newser) – As far as eulogies go, Aretha Franklin got a crummy one, at least according to her family. "He spoke for 50 minutes and at no time did he properly eulogize her," said the late singer's nephew regarding the Rev. Jasper Williams Jr. "We found the comments to be offensive and distasteful," said Vaughn Franklin, per the Daily Beast. In his statement on behalf of the family, Franklin said Williams wasn't his aunt's choice, as she didn't dictate any funeral wishes; rather, the family asked him to speak as he had done for the family on previous occasions, including 34 years prior at Franklin's father's funeral. The AP reports the Atlanta pastor's eulogy was criticized for its political overtones: He likened kids in a fatherless home to "abortion after birth" and said black lives "must not matter until black people start respecting black lives and stop killing ourselves."

The AP notes that upon uttering the line "No, black lives do not matter" during the eulogy, Stevie Wonder shouted out "black lives matter." Other critics took issue with his line about single black mothers being unable to mold black boys into men; Franklin herself was a single mom to four boys. In comments to the AP on Sunday, Williams didn't budge. "I'm sure much of the negativity is due to the fact that they don't understand what I'm talking about," he said. "Anybody who thinks black America is all right as we are now is crazy. We're not all right." He went on at length, saying Wonder "did not understand what I said" and that his words about black single moms were taken out of context. Read his full comments here. (Read more Aretha Franklin stories.)

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