Aretha Franklin eulogy pastor stands by comments on black culture

by WorldTribune Staff, September 3, 2018

The pastor who delivered the eulogy at legendary soul singer Aretha Franklin’s funeral says he stands firmly behind his words.

Rev. Jasper Williams Jr. delivers the eulogy during the funeral service for Aretha Franklin at Greater Grace Temple in Detroit on Aug. 31. / AP

Rev. Jasper Williams Jr., the pastor of Salem Baptist Church in Atlanta, admonished black men who are non-existent in the home, stressed that black women alone “cannot teach a boy to be a man” and said that “black lives don’t matter until blacks respect each others’ lives.”

Williams, in a phone interview with The Associated Press on Sept. 2, said the timing was right for his comments at the highly-politicized funeral in which some on hand used the occasion to bash President Donald Trump.

“Here’s the root of what I’ve been talking about: In order to change America, we must change black America’s culture,” Williams said. “We must do it through parenting. In order for the parenting to go forth, it has to be done in the home. The home.”

At the funeral service for Franklin on Aug. 31, Williams said blacks in a matter of months kill the same number of black people as were slain by the Ku Klux Klan throughout history.

The pastor’s eulogy caused an uproar on social media and in the funeral crowd, including Stevie Wonder who yelled out “Black Lives Matter.”

“I think Stevie Wonder did not understand what I said,” Williams told the AP. “I said blacks do not matter, because black lives cannot matter, will not matter, should not matter, must not matter until black people begin to respect their own lives. Then and only then will black lives matter. That’s what I said, and again, and again, and again. We need to have respect for each other. Once we start doing that, then we can begin to change.”

Asked about his comments that black mothers can’t raise “a black boy to be a man,” Williams said: “You internalized it like that. I’m talking about single women struggling. In the black community there is no mentoring … 70 percent of our households are headed by our precious women. They cannot teach a boy to be a man. The women need help in their homes.”

Williams, who eulogized Franklin’s father, minister and civil rights activist C.L. Franklin, 34 years ago, said he was appointed by the family to handle the eulogy at her funeral. The pastor said the last time he spoke with Aretha Franklin was a few months ago.

Williams said he hasn’t heard “one way or another” from the Franklin family, but knows about the social media criticism of him.

“I’m sure much of the negativity is due to the fact that they don’t understand what I’m talking about,” he said. “Anybody who thinks black America is all right as we are now is crazy. We’re not all right. A lot of change needs to occur. This change must come from within us. Nobody can give us things to eliminate where we are. We have to change from within ourselves. It is ludicrous for the church not to be involved. The church is the only viable institution we have in the African-American community. We must step up and turn our race around.”

Williams said he did not know what Franklin would have thought about the eulogy, “But she trusted me to do it,” he said, adding that it was appropriate “for me to say what I wanted to say, to do what I was asked to do.”

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