Edgy remarks made by Rev. Jasper Williams Jr. at Aretha Franklin’s funeral last Friday have drawn criticism from the Franklin family for failing to properly eulogize the Queen of Soul.
Williams was chosen by the family because he had eulogized family members in the past, including Rev. C.L. Franklin, Aretha’s father, whose funeral was 34 years prior.
In particular, Williams caused controversy with remarks that single mothers can’t raise black boys properly as men and that the Black Lives Matter movement isn’t effective unless African Americans stop killing one another first.
“Rev. Jasper Williams spent more than 50 minutes speaking and at no time did he properly eulogize her,” nephew Vaughn Franklin told People on Friday, in a statement given to various outlets on behalf of the family.
“We feel that Rev. Jasper Williams, Jr. used this platform to push his negative agenda, which as a family, we do not agree with,” the statement added.
Vaughn told the Associated Press that Williams’ fiery words “caught the entire family off guard.”
Williams, who is pastor emeritus at Salem Bible Church in Atlanta, stood by his remarks at a news conference over the weekend.
“No one else was asked to bring the eulogy but me. So I feel that it is appropriate for me to say what I want to say and how it is that I want to say it, because I was the only one asked to do the eulogy,” the minister said.
“I sat there for seven hours almost before I got a chance to do what I was asked to do,” Williams said. “So I couldn't get all the intricacies that I wanted in the message because it was too much time. People had grown weary of the hour.”
That’s contrary to the tactic taken by Bishop Charles H. Ellis III of Detroit’s Greater Grace Temple, who apologized after he was criticized for his behavior and jokes toward Ariana Grande during the funeral.
“[M]aybe I was too friendly or familiar,” Ellis told the Associated Press. He was accused of groping the singer and making a joke that made fun of Latinos.
Williams’ comments were far from the arena of jokes, however.
“Seventy percent of our households are led by our precious, proud, fine black women,” he said. “But as proud, beautiful and fine as our black women are, one thing a black woman cannot do — a black woman cannot raise a black boy to be a man.”