To say Aretha Franklin had a farewell worthy of a queen is an understatement. In a service that went about three hours beyond it’s planned five-hour time, the Queen of Soul was laid to rest alongside family members at Woodlawn Cemetery in Detroit. But before that happened? A star-studded funeral yesterday as loved ones, friends, dignitaries and celebrities honored her.
Among them, Faith Hill, Ariana Grande, Chaka Kahn, Jennifer Hudson, Stevie Wonder, and others performed at the event at the Greater Grace Temple in Detroit – while a long list of speakers stepped to the podium. They included former President Bill Clinton, Smokey Robinson and the Reverend Jesse Jackson, who recalled Franklin’s incredible – and sometimes quiet – contributions to the community.
But the event – while epic – was also not without controversy.
- First, Bishop Charles H. Ellis III made a playful crack about Grande’s name. While explaining that he didn’t know who she was, he noted that he saw her name on the program and “a new something on the menu at Taco Bell.” “I personally and sincerely apologize to Ariana and to her fans and to the whole Hispanic community,” Ellis offered. “When you’re doing a program for nine hours you try to keep it lively, you try to insert some jokes here and there.” But the greater transgression? It appears he also touched her inappropriately, albeit accidentally. And that’s how he explained it. “It would never be my intention to touch any woman’s breast. … I don’t know I guess I put my arm around her,” Ellis added. “Maybe I crossed the border, maybe I was too friendly or familiar but again, I apologize.” The Twitterverse hasn’t exactly forgiven him.
- Also taking serious heat on social media? The pastor who gave the eulogy. Pastor Jasper Williams has been taking flak for what some are calling “misogynistic” and even “bigoted” remarks. During his speech Friday, Williams said 70-percent of black households are led by black women, who cannot raise a black boy to be a man. In a news conference, Williams says those who are criticizing him did not understand what he meant. He clarified his comments saying excellent black men have been raised by single black mothers, but that they should be getting help from black fathers and the community should be sensitive to that fact.
And while Franklin chose Pastor Williams to give her eulogy before she died of cancer on August 16th, her family – while initially supportive – is now crying foul. For his part, Williams isn’t apologizing. Williams, who also eulogized Franklin’s father, says that while he understands that his comments may have made people uncomfortable, he stands by it. “I like to think that there’s no push back about what I said,” Williams offered. “But it could be that they did not understand what I was saying.”
Source: Washington Post