On Friday, the nation mourned the loss of the beloved “Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin.
Franklin, who passed away on August 16 at the age of 76, was iconic in the music industry and has undoubtedly impacted and influenced the work and lives of millions.
Former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton attended her Friday funeral. As USA Today reports, political figures Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, California Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Senator Debbie Stabenow, and others also attended. Entertainers Ariana Grande, Jennifer Hudson, Whoopi Goldberg, Tyler Perry, Gladys Knight, Pete Davidson, Chaka Khan, Omarosa Manigault Newman, Jenifer Lewis, Jennifer Holliday, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson attended; and, other athletes and dignitaries also attended.
Pastor Jasper Williams delivered the eulogy for the event.
In his speech, Williams channeled Franklin’s unwavering passion and challenged members of the Black community to care more about one another and to stop black-on-black violence.
The Daily Caller described his speech as “a scathing criticism of black-on-black violence.”
Williams said, “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.”
“Black on black crime, we’re all doing time. We are locked up in our minds. There’s got to be a better way. We must stop this today. Think down, look down, walk down, talk down, act down — most times we are low down. Where is your soul?” the pastor continued.
“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.”
CNN reports some other standout performances:
With a lineup that included Stevie Wonder, Jennifer Hudson, and Ariana Grande, Franklin’s funeral had enough heavy-hitters to populate the lineup for a music festival. Nothing less would be expected for a musical great’s celebration.
Wonder sang “As” after delivering a speech that emphasized the power of love.
“We need to make love great again,” Wonder said.
Hudson brought mourners to their feet with a powerful rendition of “Amazing Grace.”
Earlier in the lengthy ceremony, Grande performed her take on “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” the 1967 song written by Carole King that became one of Franklin’s signature hits.
Performers like The Clark Sisters, Chaka Khan and Yolanda Adams also entertained the crowd.
Jennifer Holliday closed the service.
And, from the Daily Beast:
Singer after singer—Faith Hill, Ariana Grande, Chaka Khan, Yolanda Adams, Jennifer Hudson, Stevie Wonder—each more famous than the next, lifted their voices and riffed (and riffed and riffed and riffed) in praise. Dozens of friends, family members, politicians, ministers, and celebrities preached and testified to Franklin’s legacy. More than a workday was spent. Franklin’s homegoing had evolved into a cultural moment: a remembrance, a meditation on race, and, at a crucial point for America, a path forward.
The funeral lasted for nearly ten hours.
This performance of Aretha Franklin’s Respect by the Queen’s Guard is amazing https://t.co/BS1QkRQAdp
— The Independent (@Independent) September 1, 2018