Seven Reasons Why I Approve of The Rev. Jasper Williams Jr.’s Eulogy at Aretha’s Franklin’s Funeral…

Hello World,

I watched several hours of The Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin’s funeral or homegoing (which word you choose is likely a reflection of your cultural origin) on Friday, but I must admit I missed the The Rev. Jasper Williams Jr.’s (pastor emeritus of  Salem Bible Church in Atlanta, Georgia) eulogy of the Queen of Soul on Friday. I mostly watched to hear some good ole black church saaangin and see who was there! Yes, I can be shallow like that. But as far as what the pastors and preachers had to say, I figured it would be what we always hear at funerals – some variation of the person was a good person or decent person, etc. (eulogy definition – a speech or piece of writing that praises someone or something highly, typically someone who has just died.) and a come- to-Jesus- while-there- is- yet-blood-running-through-your-veins appeal at the end. I’m in church every Sunday and when I was growing up that was every Sunday and Wednesday so I’ve been to many many church services and funerals/homegoings. But I’m not a preacher nor a pastor and don’t aspire to such a controversial calling but I probably could plan a pretty decent church service or homegoing if I was called upon to do so.

All that being said (written), that was why I didn’t pay attention. Some of you may wonder well wouldn’t that apply to black church saangin too. Probably but given the fact that this was the Queen of Soul’s homegoing, I figured the music would be on another level and it was. But I digress. So later on Friday, after this homegoing of all homegoings had finally commenced, I saw all kinds of chatter online regarding Rev. Williams’ eulogy.

From the AJC Article Pastor Who Delivered Aretha Franklin’s Controversial Eulogy Speaks Out:

“I need people to know that this eulogy was not reflective of God nor was it honoring to nor did it offer comfort to the bereaved or give hope for tomorrow. It was, in fact, trash. And as long as we don’t boldly call this out we are complicit.”

“Aretha Franklin was a mother of four black boys, two of them she had as a teenager. She was all set to bail Angela Davis out of jail. Raised money for the CRM. This eulogy is disrespectful to her legacy. I’m upset.

But since I hadn’t taken it in for myself, I had no thoughts on it. However, my mother told me my father, pastor emeritus of our church, Central Christian Church in Southwest Atlanta, approved it. So I was like, “Uh oh, if my father likes it” but many people that I “know” online don’t like it, there must be an old school/new school dynamic at work.

So finally this morning, I watched it and I kept waiting to be outraged, incensed at the implications and or Trump thread throughout the tirade, but I just wasn’t. Maybe if I had a theology degree as many people who have criticized the message do, maybe I would feel differently. But as a lay person with my own mind, I didn’t mind at all what Rev. Williams said. So below is not the thesis of a theological scholar and I highly respect them, but I respect my thoughts as well.

  1. As a student of history, I love a good history lesson. As a friend of the Franklin family who knew Aretha Franklin’s family and even delivered her own father the Rev. C.L. Franklin’s eulogy, the Rev. Jasper Williams Jr. offered a very knowledgeable perspective about how the Queen of Soul even came to be. I thought it was beautiful that this man who preached the gospel had enough insight to know his daughter did not have to confine herself to gospel music. Williams described in great detail how on one occasion, Rev. C.L. Franklin preached a gospel sermon in an auditorium in Memphis followed up by his daughter’s blues performance.
  2. Rev. Williams talked about how her iconic voice likely was developed. It was born of pain. The best artists of all kinds have gone through a measure of pain. And if you haven’t gone through pain, it’s hard to identify pleasure. In fact, pain and pleasure are twin souls and the most evocative of artistic expressions reflect both of them. Rev. C.L. Franklin’s home was a broken home and he was forced to raise four children on his own. It wasn’t the ideal situation, Rev. Williams noted and surely there must have been some pain felt along the way. It is likely that Aretha Franklin drew from that pain to sing the blues. I mean she made her first album at 14 years old! She was also 14 years old when she gave birth to her first son.
  3. A lot has been said about how Rev. Williams criticized single mothers when the Queen of Soul was likely a single parent for some time. I didn’t see that. He was saying a two-parent household is the optimum environment in which to raise a child. He was not saying that if you are a single parent, your child is doomed to fail nor was he saying that children from two-parent households always fare better than children raised in a signal parent household. We all know situations where that is not the case. But he was saying if it indeed took two people to form to a create a child, why wouldn’t it be optimum for then those two to raise that child? Now there are situations where that is impossible, but that is the model. Also, he wasn’t saying that aren’t any black fathers in the home, but we all know that this a problem that needs addressing.  (In addition, there are many single parents who have chosen to adopt children and that is a choice that should be commended.)
  4. And there are others who believe that Rev. Williams criticized the Black Lives Matter movement. How Sway? He was saving that black lives do matter. And they matter whether we police officers take them or we take them. Yes, police officers shouldn’t kill innocent black people but neither should we. Now, I will admit I don’t like the phrase “black on black crime” because most people when they kill other people kill people from their own race so there is “white on white crime,” “brown on brown crime” and so on. But since his audience was largely black, he was directing to his words to black people. We can support the Black Lives Matter movement AND support eradicating unjust murders in which both parties are black. In fact, it would be pointless not to do so.
  5. Now about his message about the virtues of segregation versus integration. Many of us have said that when black people had to depend on each other, we were more prosperous in terms of creating and sustaining our business models. I’ve never lived through segregation and based on what I’ve learned, I have no desire to do so. But also from what I’ve been told by those who have lived during both times, a certain cohesiveness has been lost in the name of progress.
  6. Speaking of black communities, many people do walk around like zombies on all manner of mood enhancers (drugs). Now, there are other communities who are experiencing this as well (Hello opioid epidemic!) but he was directing the message to the audience. Why is that so upsetting? This remind me when one child is scolded and the child comes back with, “Well, he is doing wrong too” in reference to his brother. That may be the case, but that doesn’t negate your error either.
  7. Back to my first thought. Rev. Williams is the same age as Aretha Franklin when she died last month. Do you not think she didn’t know him? They must have grown up together! That funeral was eight-hours long with dignitaries far and wide but in the end a preacher who had eugologized her father was the one I would dare to say she and the family chose. I know the Queen of Soul belongs to the world, but she was a human being first and she (they) chose him. In sum, all I can say is if you like it, I love it. Who am I to criticize whom you chose to deliver your eulogy?

That’s all I got.

Also I want to note that this is NOT a case of the whole “touch not my anointed” thing in which people are scared to criticize and critique long-time and revered clergymen. NO ONE not even the clergy is above criticism and critique which is what happened with the priests who were allowed to commit pedophilia for years in the Catholic church…

Watch the whole thing for yourself below. What are your thoughts?

Any thoughts?




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26 thoughts on “Seven Reasons Why I Approve of The Rev. Jasper Williams Jr.’s Eulogy at Aretha’s Franklin’s Funeral…

  1. That’s what’s wrong, most people don’t want to hear the truth. They want to hear a feel good message. I don’t feel that Pastor Williams is arrogant, he was just speaking the truth about what’s going on in this world. Aretha has already done her eulogy, Pastor Williams done what he was called to do and that is to preach to those of us that are still here in this cruel and evil world. Yes, I’m a single mother that raised to males to be men and I’ve done an awesome job! There are still so many missing pieces with the father not being there like he should have been. Thank you Pastor Jasper Williams Jr. for not telling us what we wanted to hear. One thing for sure, I guarantee you have everybody thinking? We can’t even get some pastors to work together for the betterment of our communities because they feel that if your church isn’t large enough or your Pastor isn’t on a large platform you’re beneath them, but people want to criticize Pastor Williams eulogy. Lord Have Mercy!

    • Exactly what is “the truth?” What Jasper Williams says it is? Stevie Wonder stated oh so eloquently that it is easy to focus on everything that is wrong in the black community. I choose to focus on the positive aspects while recognizing that there will always be challenges.

  2. I just feel we are to honor the the star of the show, the deceased. These other topics are best heard on Sunday. period. I went to a funeral of a very, very dear friend and her pastor chose that time to talk about all else, mostly about herself.

    I think I will put it in writing. Speak about me from the time you begin, until the time you end. I did not want leave, so let me here lots of good things about ME!

    This pastor had 30 minutes to properly eulogize the Queen. Had he done that he would not be facing more fire than honor right now.

    Clearly, he knew it was getting late, did he not? Clearly, he knew he only had 30 minutes, did he not? No this was inconsideration at its worst!

    Perhaps his congregation expects this on Sunday, and I applaud their love and support for him. But, he has to learn that the time of other people matter and when he is visiting he should stay aware that he is not at home and not in his own church. There is a huge difference between a Eugoly and a Platform….and he took the Platform.

    Those topics were important for HIM, they were not important to the people who left… and there were many empty seats as he went on, and on and on. They were also not important for the people who stayed, because most of those people stayed for other reasons. For instance, staying out of respect until the body is carried out, or because they were seated as family and felt they could not rise earlier, or because they simply have never left early during a funeral so they hesitated because normally you do not leave until the body is escorted.

    Of course, some loved the Pastor and may have continued to sit and listen. However, most were not happy and just wanted him to end this that did not celebrate the life of Aretha as he went on.

    • Totally agree! Had it been my mother or grandmother, I would’ve had his Mic shut off. Her family is already hurting and he added to their pain.

  3. For REV’ Williams to be “denounced” is a slap in Aretha’s face to question her choice of a man to give her eulogy.

    too have him , as she knew him, to be the one to give her eulogy should be honored and revered. She is the Queen of Soul and has been a lifelong advocate of Human Rights for Black People.

    I agree with Rev. Williams. Black folk (African Americans} were better off during segregation. We had our own stores, and economic stability. That is until the white man noticed our economic power, then they decided they could benefit financially
    from our economic power. What a shame.

    Who are those who question Rev. Williams words of wisdom must be White.


    • You must’ve missed the stories that are plastered on most NEWSPAPERS. Her FAMILY is VERY UPSET! They feel hurt, let down and disrespected by his Eulogy…or should I say, LACK OF EULOGY.

  4. Aretha chose Reverend Williams herself and in my opinion, the Reverend’s decision to call for a renewed focus on the problems of much of the black community has the potential to accomplish something good. I cannot disagree with anything the man said.

    • She called on him out of TRUST. He had Eulogized other members of her family including her father. Based on how he handled their services, she felt SAFE to entrust her departure to him. He FAILED her greatly!!

    • I read that she didn’t choose him. The family did, because of the history he has with the family. They had no idea that he was going to say what he said.

  5. Somewhere in there, you gave the definition of EULOGY. How can what he did be considered a Eulogy? He ROASTED her and her father. Mentioning her pain at 14 and delivering a baby was his sly way of dancing around rumors. He owes the family an apology along with a disappearing act! I could go on and on about how black leadership from our churches used to be the adhesive in our cohesiveness. But, I don’t want to bore you with that. The family was extremely hurt by and displeased with the Eulogy he gave and that’s all that matters. However, I don’t think he should apologize because it would be insincere.

  6. Rev. Williams “eulogy” was reminiscent of Bill Cosby’s “pound cake speech” in 2004 at the 50th anniversary celebration of Brown vs. Board of Education. Some jokingly called it the “Ghettosburg Address.” They both are saying we need to engage in serious introspection instead of blaming everything on white people, but 14 years later we are still not ready to hear the message. We prefer to invoke the specter of slavery or harp about the persistence of structural barriers and racism. But can we just agree that someone’s funeral is not the place to talk about social or political issues? It’s supposed to be a celebration of the departed’s live, not a rally.

  7. I heard nothing offensive and thought the eulogy was exceptional taking under consideration that the deceased and the pastor had a very close relationship and probably prayerfully discussed in great detail her deepest concerns and desires regarding life and death. No one can publicly speak about private conversations that transpire between people in their final days.
    Aretha Franklin lived her life executing her gifts to influence and bless the lives of others. Her intent was to leave a legacy that would be passed on through generations. She, no doubt was concerned about her grand children and whether or not they understood what the plight of being a saved person who happens to be black is all about.
    She had a gift of outreach ministry that made a difference while she was living and I believe will continue through her lineage and beyond.
    So many people are going through the five stages of grief and can only see and hear what their feelings demand at the time. No thanks to social networking, an advocate for confusion and misunderstanding among everybody. No faith, no family / no family, no future! What weaves the formula is LOVE. This applies to us all. We must love each other, we must support each other, we must encourage each other and change our destiny! I thank Pastor Jasper Williams Jr. for full filling his assignment at that appointed time. Indeed a difficult one to carry out!

  8. I agree with all that you say BUT the Rev gave us a speech, not a eulogy. He barely mentioned his association with Aretha at the beginning.

    I have heard Rev. Jasper Williams, Jr. preach on many occasions. He always hits his mark! On Friday he was definitely off of the mark. I agree that everything he said was true but his words were for another forum NOT a celebration of life service.

    • If you say, he always hits his mark then maybe you should give him the benefit of the doubt. I don’t think he meant to harm the family nor anyone else.

  9. Don’t care how much he, or how many members of his church, tries to justify it, this eulogy was absolutely inappropriate, and this man needs to apologize to the family, and to those of us who loved Aretha.

  10. Some of his message did ring of truth.
    However, much of his eulogy was inconsiderate to the family and inappropriate for a funeral. The family selected him because he eulogized Ms. Franklin’a father, sister and brother. He should have taken this time to speak to and console the family and not chastise the black community. Not to mention, if he knew he wanted to make these controversial remarks during the eulogy, he should have at least cleared them with the family.
    Further, as the renown and respected speaker he is reputed to be, he should have done a better job of making his message clearer in reference to “Black Lives Matter”. Understandably, given the violence exhibited by SOME in the black community toward others in the black community; it would appear that black lives don’t matter to these black people. However, the eulogist stated that since black on black violence is so prevalent in the black community, black lives don’t matter, shouldn’t matter, can’t matter, etc. However, to blankedly state that “black lives don’t matter” because some in the black community perpetuate this behavior is just erroneous and plain reckless. I am not one of his parishioners, and never heard or read his sermons so I won’t pretend to know what his intentions were. Seemingly, for most of the 50 minutes he spoke, he was promoting his “personal agenda” while he had a captive audience.

    • It may not have been a bad thing to run the gist of it by the family, but when you start doing that, that could lead to more issues. I know that as a writer in regard to the articles I write.

  11. The debate over whether Pastor Jasper Williams was right or wrong for what he said during Wueen Aretha’s eulogy will be long debated. However, I’m of the mindset that no matter what he said, it will not help or hurt Aretha, and after all it was supposed to be all about Aretha.
    I know most eulogies are typically feel good messages for the family to aid in their healing but truth is, it doesn’t and shouldn’t. How can anybody else make you feel better about a person’s life or death. It’s your time spent in developing a relationship over time that will provide lasting valuable memories that will keep the deceased with you always.
    Time is too critical for mankind in general and more specifically for the black race as we are struggling for survival on many fronts and Black on Black crime is one of the most deadliest.
    It’s never a right time to speak words that the masses don’t want to hear. But based on history shared with me by my black family, our churches were once the first place you heard truth whether you liked it or not. Change rarely grows out of comfort and status quo. You must shake things up and date I say, Pastor Williams really caused quite a stir.
    The Queen lived her life and wrote her story well. For hours, many others retold it, memorialized it, and the family probably felt good, since that’s what many think you should feel. But, knowing what Aretha lived through, the struggles she must have had rearing her family, as a single then married mom, it’s certain she bore great pains during her struggle.
    Surely, if we as African Americans, Blacks, People of color, could work together to bring the family unit back together whereby there is love for reach other that runs from heart to heart, surely it will cure many of the ills of our community.

  12. Anyone who agrees with the Rev message and timing of said message just proves one of the many stereotypes about African Americans….. Lack of intelligence and uneducated. Perhaps, this is true.

    He used a false equivalency. (Logical Fallacy) This is the flaw in many conservative arguments, which isn’t surprising… because most religious people are conservative.

    African Americans being religious both ridiculous and sad.

    • Actually, that was kind of funny Tunie! LOL. Good thing I know that I’m intelligent! Thanks for stopping by my blog. Hopefully, we can move on from this as a community. The Queen’s homecoming was a week ago today…

  13. is is so interesting because I viewed this on national tv and here is exactly what was shown first the sacntuary was filled beyond capacity when the honored guest and celebeties were given thier time to speak but when the preaher stood up to preach the word of God the santuary was nearly empty and not only that the camera man notice this to so he began to show people sleeping as a matter of fact one man on the pulpit with shades on was sleeping with his head bowed down a woman was sleeping with her head leaning backwards if you think that Iam making this up go back and replay the whole thing there were people sleeping in the ochestra while the word of God was being preached now here is why as a race we need help after what really was said to help us was literally to some offensive after he finish the honored guest and celebreties and those in the audience come back in and fill the sactuary to capacity to hear Stevie Wonder sing this is so disturbing we as a race would rather be entertained for a few minutes than hear a word from God that can help us I as a black man am embarassed by this because the preacher is not the one we need to be angry with we need to be angry with ourselves because we pass this on to our children grand children and blame everybody but our ownselves WOW