The expansive funeral ceremony of Aretha Franklin on Friday was befitting of the Queen of Soul. But it wasn’t without controversy.
There was a major backlash on social media to the funeral eulogy given by Rev. Jasper Williams Jr. of the Salem Bible Church in Atlanta, who said that “Black America has lost its soul.”
Williams took the stage hours into the nine-hour ceremony to give the eulogy. And by the time he was done 50-minutes later, many on social media saw his eulogy as an unnecessary lashing of Black America in a moment when he should have been honoring one of its greatest icons.
In what appeared to an attempt to take Black America to task, the reverend criticized black-on-black crime, the disappearance of the Black father, gay relationships, single mothers raising sons by themselves, and the Black Lives Matter protest movement.
”Black America has lost its soul,” he said at one point. “The one thing that Black America needs more than anything else is to come back home to God. We’ve lost our soul.
“Where is your soul Black man? As I look in your house, there are no fathers in the home no more. Where is your soul?” he continued. “Seventy percent of our households run 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!”
On social media, many pointed out that his ideas were “antiquated” and took away from the focus of the day. And for those who did agree with his points, they said it was not the time nor the place to make them.
Correction: Rev Jasper Williams, Jr., Black Mothers been raising Black boys for years!! We're Still are raising proud, accomplished and aware Black man!! I should have known! Rest of this eulogy has been a conservative Black confusion rant!
— Barbara Arnwine (@barbs73) August 31, 2018
#JasperWilliams literally sat there and fixed his ugglass face to say that "A Black woman can not raise a Black man" WHILE AT THE FEET OF A BLACK WOMAN WHO RAISED ALL BOYS BY HERSELF. Get him the FUCK out of here. #ArethaHomegoing
— A$AP Blocky (@WHUTUPDOE) August 31, 2018
And just like that… Rev. Jasper Williams has reminded Black Xers and Millennials as to why we don't regularly attend church just in the last 8 min.
— Bärí A. Williams (@BariAWilliams) August 31, 2018
Reverend Jasper Williams plantation style speech at #ArethaFranklinFuneral is a prime example why there is a total disconnect between young Black people and the older Black church crowd. All that cowardly "you's gots to do better" talk ain't fooling these kids
— Tariq Nasheed (@tariqnasheed) August 31, 2018
Let’s be honest about Aretha Franklin funeral eulogy. Rev Jasper Williams Jr had a FEW valid points. However it was NOT the place nor time!!!! A few of the speakers had inappropriate things to say in that setting. #ArethaFranklinHomegoing
— Chanell DeNea' MSW (@ChanellDeNea) September 1, 2018
— кнαℓєєѕι'ѕ вєѕт ωιg (@StormXMunroe) August 31, 2018
But the good reverend seemed unfazed by the backlash, telling the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he expected it
“I know it’s controversial,” he said. “When you’re criticized as much as I’ve been, you don’t let it get to you. I know where my heart and head are, and I’m willing to explain and to talk about it.”
His eulogy was not the only controversy of the day. Bishop Charles H. Ellis III, the pastor of Greater Grace Temple in Detroit, who officiated the funeral service, has apologized after receiving a ton of backlash for touching featured performer, Ariana Grande