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Pastor denounced for Aretha Franklin eulogy says critics misunderstood him

"Maybe they didn’t understand what I was saying," Rev. Jasper Williams Jr. said.
by Tim Stelloh /
Image: Rev. Jasper Williams Jr. delivers a eulogy for Aretha Franklin at the funeral service for the late singer at the Greater Grace Temple in Detroit
Rev. Jasper Williams Jr. delivers a eulogy for Aretha Franklin at the funeral service for the late singer at the Greater Grace Temple in Detroit on Aug. 31, 2018.Mike Segar / Reuters

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A pastor who was denounced for the eulogy he delivered at Aretha Franklin's funeral said Sunday that his critics had misunderstood him.

Asked during a news conference about push back to parts of his speech that appeared to deride black mothers and the response to police violence against African-Americans, among other things, Rev. Jasper Williams Jr. said, "I like to think there has been no push back."

"Maybe they didn't understand what I was saying," added Williams, who is black.

Pressed on his assertion that African-American mothers can't raise "a black boy to be a man," as Williams put it in his eulogy, he 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," he added.

During his speech, Williams, who is the pastor emeritus of Salem Bible Church in Atlanta and delivered a eulogy for Franklin's late father in 1984, also appeared to criticize Black Lives Matter, asserting that black people care more police violence against African-Americans than black-on-black crime.

"I'm not saying black lives don't matter," he clarified on Sunday. "Only when black lives respect black lives, then they will matter."

Some critics appeared to take aim at Williams for using his eulogy as a platform. As one observer noted in a Facebook post that has been shared nearly 700 times, "Eulogies are not let me get this off my chest speeches ... Eulogies comfort the living, celebrate the dead, help us face our own mortality and usher us to a place of hearing God say, "Well done good and faithful servant."

Williams said Sunday that 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."

"I meant nobody no harm and yet I meant the truth," he added.

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