Last Friday’s homegoing celebration for Aretha Franklin’s was all over the place and lasted approximately 9 hours so I’m shocked anybody in that church was alert and listening by the time Reverend Jasper Williams Jr. got around to the eulogy that capped off the day’s events. Sadly, Aretha’s family were listening and what they heard was, in their words, “offensive and distasteful”. People reports that Jasper (I refuse to use his honorifics) used his platform to push his own bizarre agenda which included criticizing Black folks, and Black single mothers in particular, which Aretha was 4 times over. The family said he “spent more than 50 minutes speaking and at no time did he properly eulogize her”. That’s like getting a steaming turd in lieu of a cherry on top of an otherwise delicious (albeit melty) sundae.
According to People, Jasper wasn’t Aretha’s choice. He was the default, having eulogized other members of the family. Aretha’s nephew Vaughn Franklin issued the statement.
“My aunt did not ask Rev. Jasper Williams, Jr. to eulogize her before she passed away because dying is a topic that she never discussed with anyone,” the statement continued. “Our family asked Rev. Jasper Williams, Jr. to perform the eulogy because he eulogized our grandfather (Rev. C. L. Franklin), my aunt (Erma Franklin) and my uncle (Cecil Franklin).
I didn’t watch it live myself, I peaced out after Chaka Khan and her magic lyrics fan (Iconic) gave me enough life to finish my day’s work, but I did catch the eulogy later and it was indeed garbage. Here’s that Jasper had to say:
Among his slams? The Black Lives Matter movement, of which he said, “Until black people start respecting black lives and stop killing ourselves, black lives can never matter.”
But perhaps Williams’ most contentious claim was that single mothers cannot “raise a black boy to become a man.” He even called a household without a father an “abortion after birth.”
It’s hard to fathom that nobody asked to see Jasper’s notes beforehand, but it was a 9-ring circus, so perhaps the eulogy simply fell through the cracks.
According to the Associated Press, the family had not spoken to Williams before the funeral about what he would discuss. His words “caught the entire family off guard,” Vaughn told the AP.
The statement concluded: “We feel that Rev. Jasper Williams, Jr. used this platform to push his negative agenda, which as a family, we do not agree with.”
Jasper has responded to the criticism. He said “I understand it. I regret it. But I’m sorry they feel that way” which I hope actually means “forgive me, I’m a dinosaur, a misogynistic relic of a forgotten age. I enjoy Fox news and shaming my parishioners. I ran this eulogy by Diamond and Silk and they said it was perfect”.
Thankfully, nothing some old head preacher said can touch Aretha’s legacy or detract from our appreciation of The Queen. Hopefully the eulogy will soon be forgotten along with Faith Hill’s opening number which, honestly, was almost as cringeworthy.