Aretha Franklin’s eulogist draws criticism for his remarks on black America

A Georgia pastor’s eulogy of Aretha Franklin has sparked criticism from some people who accused him of being homophobic, sexist and demeaning to other black people. 

The Rev. Jasper Williams Jr. of the Salem Bible Church in Atlanta touched on Franklin’s life and career but also criticized black-on-black crime and said single mothers are incapable of raising sons by themselves. He said black America has lost its soul and that it’s “now time for black America to come back home.” 

“There was a time when we as a race had a thriving economy,” Williams said. “I remember we had our own little grocery stores. We had our own little hotels. They weren’t big and fancy, but they were ours. …

“As bad as the days as Jim Crow and segregation were … it forced us to each other instead of forcing us on each other. We quickly come to realize that as a people, all we really have is one another.

“But when we marched, when we protested, when we got through saying we shall overcome, yes, we were rewarded with integration, we got what we fought for, we got what we marched for. But with the birth of integration, there also came the loss of not only the black community’s economy, but there also came the loss of the black man’s soul.”

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Williams said the majority of black households are run by women — but also said women cannot raise boys to be men.  

“Where is your soul, black man?” he asked. “As I look in your house, there are no fathers in the home no more. Where is your soul?”

“Seventy percent of our households are led by our precious, proud, fine black women. 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. She can’t do that. She can’t do that.” 

Then, Williams touched on the Black Lives Matter movement and called for an end to black-on-black violence. 

“It amazes me how it is that when the police kills one of us, we’re ready to protest march, destroy innocent property,” he said. “We’re ready to loot, steal whatever we want. … But when we kill 100 of us, nobody says anything. Nobody does anything.”

He continued: “If you choose to ask me today — Do black lives matter? Let me answer like this. No. Black lives do not matter. Black lives will 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 talked about the importance of strengthening black households and the importance of homes led by a man and a woman.  

“Anytime we stray away from God’s design for what the home is supposed to be, heavy will be our results,” he said.

“God has told us what to do with our home. He designed the home. I mean God put in a home a man and a woman, a father and a mother. God put in the home a husband and a wife. A provider and a nurturer.” 

Twitter user A’Ja Lyve, who uses the handle @ajalyve, accused the pastor of being homophobic and sexist.

“Reverend Jasper Williams Jr, pastor of Salem Baptist Church in Atlanta, GA, is a homophobic, sexist, misogynist, ableist, uneducated bigot who is disrespecting Auntie Aretha Franklin at her funeral,” Lyve wrote. “She wasn’t about nonsense.”

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