Detroit — Thousands are expected to pour into Detroit's Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History on Tuesday and Wednesday to pay their final respects to Aretha Franklin.
The setting for the public viewings could not be more fitting, according to Paula Marie Seniors, an associate professor of Africana studies at Virginia Tech.
"I think it's incredibly significant — she is being honoured almost like a queen at one of the most important black museums in the United States," said Seniors, who visited the museum several years ago when she was in Detroit doing research.
The Queen of Soul, Seniors said, was "a singer of the universe." Yet she added that Franklin, who died Aug. 16 of pancreatic cancer at the age of 76, also was "so unapologetically black — she was so proud of being a black woman."
To be sure, Franklin didn't consider herself a catalyst for the women's movement or on the front lines of the fight for civil rights. But she represented and pushed for both in ways big and small — none, perhaps, more prominently or simultaneously as her mould-breaking take on the Otis Redding song, "Respect." She later said that with her interpretation — which even Redding acknowledged became the standard — sought to convey a message about the need to respect women, people of colour, children and all people.