Pastor Fires Back After Charged Eulogy About Black Community Draws Ire from Franklin Family


Aretha Franklin, the popular singer dubbed the “Queen of Soul,” recently passed away and was finally laid to rest following an epic 8-hour funeral service in Detroit over the weekend. The funeral saw various artists performing her hit songs while a number of speakers delivered eulogies.

According to The Daily Wire, the 50-minute eulogy delivered by Rev. Jasper Williams Jr. has been decried and denounced by Franklin’s family members as controversial, “distasteful” and “offensive.”

Williams, an “old-school” pastor who hails from Atlanta, Georgia, delivered rather biting commentary on the state of the broader black community in America that both called out single-parent homes and stated that “black lives do not matter” so long as blacks are killing each other in predominately black communities.

“Black lives must not matter until black people start respecting black lives and stop killing ourselves,” Williams said. He also took issue with the large number of fatherless homes in the black community and lamented that children being raised without a “provider” as father and “nurturer” as mother was akin to “abortion after birth.”

In an interview with The Associated Press, a representative of Franklin’s family — nephew Vaughan Franklin — said of Williams’ speech, “He spoke for 50 minutes and at no time did he properly eulogize her.”

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Since Franklin had failed to make any funeral arrangements prior to her death, Williams’ presence — along with everything at the service — was arranged by Franklin’s family on her behalf. Williams was chosen to deliver a eulogy because he had eulogized Franklin’s mother — civil rights activist and minister C.L. Franklin — more than 30 years ago. Vaughan Franklin explained that Williams’ eulogy — which had not been pre-screened by the family — had “caught the entire family off guard,” and said further of the speech that it was “very, very distasteful.”

But in a separate interview with the AP, Williams not only stood by the remarks he made in his speech, but appeared to double down and reiterate them as well in a bid to explain what he meant that some people apparently have misunderstood.

“I was trying to show that the movement now is moving and should move in a different direction,” Williams said of his remarks about the black community. “What we need to do is create respect among ourselves.”

“Aretha is the person with that song ‘R-E-S-P-E-C-T’ that is laid out for us and what we need to be as a race within ourselves. We need to show each other that. We need to show each other respect. That was the reason why I did it,” he continued.

Are you glad to see this pastor standing by his powerful commentary in spite of the criticism?

As for his commentary about single-parent homes — which some received as an attack on Franklin, who’d raised four boys by herself — Williams insisted he only meant that two-parent homes are infinitely better for children than one-parent homes.

“Here’s the root of what I’ve been talking about: In order to change America, we must change black America’s culture. We must do it through parenting. In order for the parenting to go forth, it has to be done in the home. The home,” said Williams.

On his comment about black lives not mattering — to which performing artist Stevie Wonder had responded by shouting “black lives matter” during his performance — Williams said, “I think Stevie Wonder did not understand what I said.”

“I said blacks do not matter, because black lives cannot matter, will not matter, should not matter, must not matter until black people begin to respect their own lives. Then and only then will black lives matter. That’s what I said, and again, and again, and again. We need to have respect for each other. Once we start doing that, then we can begin to change,” the pastor explained.

As for all of the criticism he has received for his speech on social media, Williams said, “I’m sure much of the negativity is due to the fact that they don’t understand what I’m talking about.

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“Anybody who thinks black America is all right as we are now is crazy. We’re not all right. It’s a lot of change that needs to occur. This change must come from within us. Nobody can give us things to eliminate where we are. We have to change from within ourselves. It is ludicrous for the church not to be involved. The church is the only viable institution we have in the African-American community. We must step up and turn our race around,” he added.

This “old-school” pastor was invited to deliver a eulogy at Aretha Franklin’s funeral, but when that speech didn’t go exactly as some would have liked, and instead delivered hard truths to the audience, many were offended and outraged. But the pastor isn’t backing down — nor should he, as he spoke the uncomfortable truth that many in his community need to hear, whether they want to or not.

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Ben Marquis is a writer who identifies as a constitutional conservative/libertarian. He has written about current events and politics for The Western Journal since 2014. His focus is on protecting the First and Second Amendments.
Ben Marquis has written on current events and politics for The Western Journal since 2014. He reads voraciously and writes about the news of the day from a conservative-libertarian perspective. He is an advocate for a more constitutional government and a staunch defender of the Second Amendment, which protects the rest of our natural rights. He lives in Little Rock, Arkansas, with the love of his life as well as four dogs and four cats.
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