The funeral of the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, was marred by the controversial eulogy of Rev. Jasper Williams. As a eulogist, Williams received widespread scorn for his words that had nothing to do with Franklin’s life and work.
Vaughn Franklin, Aretha’s nephew, said in a statement “We found the comments to be offensive and distasteful. He spoke for 50 minutes and at no time did he properly eulogize her. We feel that Rev. Jasper Williams Jr. used this platform to push his negative agenda, which as a family, we do not agree with.”
To respond to the criticism, nationally syndicated talk show host Dr. Rashad Richey arranged for Williams and his son Joseph Williams to appear today, Tuesday, Sept. 4, on his program Real Talk with Rashad Richey.
Richey learned today that after being confirmed, Williams, the pastor emeritus of Salem Baptist Church, backed out. Richey posted to his social media pages, “Out of all of my years of broadcasting, I have never had a guest cancel on the day of a scheduled interview. Rev. Jasper Williams has canceled his confirmed appearance on my show today.”
Williams’ questionable statements made during Franklin’s service included a claim about Black Lives Matter. Williams stated, “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.” Williams added that the deaths of Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Terrance Crutcher and others did not matter. As he spoke, Franklin’s family members yelled out during the eulogy, “Talk about Aretha.” He did not. He continued, further insulting Franklin’s four sons when he stated that a Black woman cannot raise a Black man.
Williams’ words supported the false narrative of the Alt-Right movement regarding the state of Black life in America. His statements regarding Black Lives Matter were then used as sound clips by White Conservative media organizations to further diminish this powerful social justice movement that arose after the killing of unarmed Black people.