The funeral of Aretha Franklin in Detroit on Friday briefly became an impromptu forum for the Black Lives Matter movement and other issues critical to African Americans.
The Queen of Soul was remembered during a nearly eight-hour service that featured tributes from former US president Bill Clinton and civil rights leaders, as well as often emotional performances by entertainers Ariana Grande, Jennifer Hudson and Gladys Knight.
The Reverend Jasper Williams Jr, the pastor at Salem Baptist Church in Atlanta, delivered the eulogy for Franklin and used his time at the podium to raise social issues critical to black people.
“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,” Williams said.
Singer Stevie Wonder responded to Williams when he delivered remarks at the end of the service, following his own musical tribute to Franklin.
“We can talk about all the things that are wrong, and there are many, but the only thing that can deliver us is love. So what needs to happen today, not only in this nation, but throughout the world is that we need to make love great again,” Wonder said.
“Because black lives do matter, because all lives do matter and if we love God then we know truly that it is our love that will make all things matter, when we make love great again. That is what Aretha has said throughout her life,” Wonder said. REUTERS African News Agency (ANA)