Aretha Franklin‘s family on Monday slammed the pastor who delivered a eulogy for the late music legend at her funeral last week.

The Rev. Jasper Williams Jr. — a senior pastor of Salem Baptist Church — gave a controversial speech at the Queen of Soul’s memorial service in Detroit on Friday that Franklin’s relatives called “offensive and distasteful.”

Dozens of famous musicians, political figures and other celebrities attended the funeral. In his eulogy, Williams discussed black-on-black crime in the United States, with an emphasis on murder and how this relates to the Black Lives Matter movement.

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“If you choose to ask me today ‘do Black Lives Matter?’ let me answer like this: No, black lives do not matter,” said Williams. “Black lives will not matter. Black lives ought not matter. 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,” he said.

With regards to single mothers raising their children, the pastor explained: “A black woman cannot raise a black boy to be a man.”

“Right in your own neighborhoods, where your church is, there are struggling single moms, that don’t know what to do. That needs a man in the house through mentoring programs and parenting our children, we can turn black America around,” he said. “The Queen of Soul has spoken now, time now for black America to come back home.”

Franklin was the mother of four sons.

The late soul singer’s family rebuked Williams for his remarks.

“Rev. Jasper Williams spent more than 50 minutes speaking and at no time did he properly eulogize her,” Franklin’s nephew, Vaughn Franklin, said in a statement released on behalf of the family Monday.

“We feel that Rev. Jasper Williams Jr. used this platform to push his negative agenda, which as a family, we do not agree with,” he added.


Williams responded to critics of his eulogy by defending his own comments and claiming Aretha Franklin had selected him to speak at her memorial service. The pastor also clarified that he did not intend to insult single black mothers by implying they were incapable of raising their children. He said he was simply lamenting the fact that many black children don’t have a father or other male mentor to look up to.

With respect to his comments on Black Lives Matter, Williams said: “I’m saying that when we as a race sit back and get mad, if a police officer kills one of us, and we don’t say anything when 100 of us are killed by us that something is wrong with that. I’m not saying that black lives do not matter in terms of the worth of a black life, but what I’m saying in essence is that it does not matter, ought not matter, should not matter, cannot matter until black people begin to — Aretha — R-E-S-P-E-C-T, respect black lives. Only then will black lives matter.”

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