Social media had a strong and immediate response to Reverend Jasper Williams Jr.’s eulogy for Aretha Franklin last week, with many expressing their dismay that the Atlanta clergyman had used the late singer’s funeral as a platform to chastise black Americans for a wide range of perceived failures: calling households without father figures “abortion after birth;” claiming, “Until black people start respecting black lives and stop killing ourselves, black lives can never matter;” and declaring, “Black America has lost its soul.” If you were wondering how Aretha Franklin’s loved ones were reacting to his fifty-minute speech in person, well, it turns out they were pretty shocked by the whole thing, too.
“It has been very, very distasteful,” the late singer’s nephew Vaughn Franklin told AP News in a statement from her family. “He spoke for 50 minutes and at no time did he properly eulogize her.” He says Aretha did not personally request Williams to eulogize her, but he was chosen due to his involvement in past family memorials, including the funeral of Franklin’s father, civil rights activist C.L. Franklin. In response to their report, Reverend Williams told AP News, “I understand it. I regret it. But I’m sorry they feel that way.”