Aretha Franklin’s Pastor Wants Black People to Do Better

By Chris Jasurek
Chris Jasurek
Chris Jasurek
September 3, 2018 Updated: September 3, 2018

The pastor chosen to deliver the eulogy at Aretha Franklin’s funeral took the opportunity to decry black-on-black violence and the decay of black home life.

Superstar entertainer Aretha Franklin, called “The Queen of Soul,” passed away of pancreatic cancer in her home in Detroit on Aug. 16.

According to the Daily Caller, Franklin personally chose Pastor Jasper Williams to speak at her funeral in Detroit, Michigan on Aug. 31.

The Pastor used the occasion to address issues of race and crime, and the state of the black community in America.

“How can we immortalize the Queen of Soul?” Pastor Williams began.

He then plunged immediately into his powerful message: “If we are truthful, honest and fair—we would have to say that black America has lost its soul.

“The one thing that black America needs today more than anything else is to come back home to God.”

Jesse Jackson speaks at Aretha Franklin's funeral
Jesse Jackson speaks at Aretha Franklin’s funeral at Greater Grace Temple in Detroit, Michigan on August 31, 2018. (Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images)

Pastor Williams called out black men in particular, for abandoning their spouses and children.

“Where is your soul, black man? As I look in the house, there are no fathers in the home anymore.

“Where is your soul? Seventy percent of our households are led by our precious, proud, fine black women.

“But as proud, beautiful and fine as our black women are, one thing a black woman cannot do—black woman cannot raise a black boy to be a man.”

Pastor Williams’ eulogy was much more of a sermon—which he readily admitted. “I know I’m preaching to you,” he told the audience.

Do Black Lives Matter?

The pastor then delivered a scathing condemnation of the way black people treated each other–and contrasted it with how black people react to incidents of violence by whites against blacks.

“Where is your soul? The soul—if you choose to ask me today—do black lives matter?

“Let me answer like this: no. Black lives do not matter. 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.”

Stevie Wonder performs at the funeral for Aretha Franklin
Stevie Wonder performs at the funeral for Aretha Franklin at the Greater Grace Temple in Detroit, Michigan on August 31, 2018. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

According to an FBI study from 2013, 90 percent of murdered black people were killed by other black people.

A Justice Department report (pdf) spanning 28 years from 1980–2008 reported that 93 percent of black victims were killed by blacks.

According to the Washington Post Police Shootings database, law enforcement officers killed 223 black people in 2017.

The Root reported that 1,129 people were killed by police in 2017, with 27 percent (304) of those being black.

Pastor Williams alluded to this in his eulogy.

“It amazes me how it is when the police kills one of us, we are ready to protest, march, destroy innocent property. We’re ready to loot, steal, whatever we want. But when we kill 100 of us, nobody says anything. Nobody does anything,” Williams said.

Gladys Knight performs at the funeral for Aretha Franklin
Gladys Knight performs at the funeral for Aretha Franklin at the Greater Grace Temple in Detroit, Michigan on August 31, 2018. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

‘What the home is supposed to be’

Pastor Williams returned to the theme of raising black children to finish his address. He re-emphasized that both parents play an essential role in raising a child.

“God put in the home a husband and a wife, a provider and a nurturer,” Williams stated.

“And whenever a man is not there and the provisions are not made for the home, and whenever the mother is not there and the child doesn’t learn how to nurture and be loved and thereby love.”

In an interview with the Associated Press on Sept. 1, Pastor Williams said that he felt his eulogy was wholly appropriate and timely.

Other featured speakers discussed the civil rights movement, and some talked about President Donald Trump, Williams noted.

“I was trying to show that the movement now is moving and should move in a different direction,” he said. “… What we need to do is create respect among ourselves. Aretha is the person with that song ‘R-E-S-P-E-C-T’ that is laid out for us and what we need to be as a race within ourselves. We need to show each other that. We need to show each other respect. That was the reason why I did it.”


Chris Jasurek