The body of the Queen of Soul laid in repose for the public to say its goodbyes for the past few days. Thousands lined up to view the body of the legendary singer who was so much more than that to millions.
Aretha Franklin died of pancreatic cancer at age 76 on Aug. 16. Her body laid in honor at New Bethel Baptist Church and at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History for two days before her Aug. 31 funeral.
Franklin’s funeral, her “home-going,” will be held at Greater Grace Temple, the City of David, which seats more than 4,000. The funeral, slated for 10 a.m. Friday will be private with family, friends and invited guests including dignitaries and celebrities.
Rev. Jasper Williams Jr. of Atlanta, who eulogized Aretha’s father Pastor C. L. Frankin in 1984, will deliver her eulogy Friday.
The Detroit News reported Williams is a “charismatic minister known for his masterful weaving of the teachings of the Bible with social issues…”
Greater Grace Temple pastor, Bishop Charles H. Ellis III said in a statement that while she was beloved by the world, “we as as Detroiters called her our own.”
At her funeral, a ‘Celebration of Life,” dignitaries will speak, including former Pres. Bill Clinton and the Rev. Jesse Jackson, performers will sing, like Ariana Grande and Jennifer Holliday, and family and friends will reflect on their time with her.
Read about the full program of the ‘Celebration of Life’ for Aretha Franklin including speakers and superstars here.
Here’s some photos you need to see:
Aretha’s Body, in a 24-Karat Gold Casket, Was Driven in the Same Hearse as Rosa Parks & Her Father Rev. C. L. Franklin
Aretha Franklin’s body was transported to the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in the ivory, two-door 1940 Cadillac LaSalle that has its own rich history.
Aretha’s father pastor and civil rights activist the Rev. C.L. Franklin’s body rode in the vintage car for his funeral in 1984 and the body of civil rights legend Rosa Parks, who died in 2005,was also carried in the classic one-of-a-kind hearse.
Swanson Funeral Home funeral director O’Neil Swanson II told CNN Franklin is at peace in a 24-karat casket.
“God didn’t make a better singer, and there isn’t a better casket. She deserves the very best,” he was quoted as saying.
Aretha Was Wearing a Red Dress & Red Heels. Her Casket Was Surrounded by Thousands of Flowers as Thousands of People Came to Pay Their R-E-S-P-E-C-T’s
Early on it wasn’t clear that this is where, the Charles Wright Museum of African American History, Aretha would lay in repose, but through likely very hard work under intense time constraints and pressure, a stunning tableau in the rotunda of the famed museum on Aug. 28 and Aug. 29, allowed thousands of Detroiters the chance to say their farewells to their neighbor and the city’s most revered citizen.
There were signs and specially-made t-shirts, but mostly there was song, solemnity and oceans of tears.
Each day, from early morning to late night, lines wrapped around the building.
Aretha Came ‘Home’ to New Bethel Baptist Church One Last Time
Thursday, Aretha Franklin, a civil rights figure herself laid in repose at the church where she grew up and first recorded music. It was a home-coming and home-going for Franklin at New Bethel Baptist church, where her father was pastor for decades.
At age 14, Aretha, who along with her sisters and father sang in the church choir, recorded an album of spirituals called ‘Songs of Faith.’
New Bethel also became a center of the civil rights movement in the 1960s and it was Rev. Franklin that spearheaded the 1963 Detroit Walk to Freedom where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr marched with more than 120,000, then the largest civil rights demonstration in the nation.
Two years later, a rally was held at the church to raise money for the Selma, AL, voter registration drive King was holding. In November of 1965, Coretta Scott King delivered an address at the church and the following year, in October of 1966, Dr. King delivered a speech at the annual men’s day dinner.
Aretha was there for it all; she spoke, she sang and she supported the movement with her energy, commitment and presence.