Aretha Franklin‘s 9-hour “Celebration of Life” funeral included a controversial 50-minute eulogy from Atlanta pastor Reverend Jasper Williams Jr., one that her family says they found to be “offensive and distasteful.”
The clergyman had social media users stirring on Friday as he took the stage at Greater Grace Temple in Detroit. Though he was there to pay tribute to the Queen of Soul’s life and legacy, Williams instead used his platform to criticize black Americans.
Among his slams? The Black Lives Matter movement, of which he said, “Until black people start respecting black lives and stop killing ourselves, black lives can never matter.”
But perhaps Williams’ most contentious claim was that single mothers cannot “raise a black boy to become a man.” He even called a household without a father an “abortion after birth.”
Franklin was a single mother to four boys.
“We found the comments to be offensive and distasteful,” Franklin’s nephew Vaughn Franklin said in a statement on Monday obtained by PEOPLE. “Rev. Jasper Williams spent more than 50 minutes speaking and at no time did he properly eulogize her.”
“My aunt did not ask Rev. Jasper Williams, Jr. to eulogize her before she passed away because dying is a topic that she never discussed with anyone,” the statement continued. “Our family asked Rev. Jasper Williams, Jr. to perform the eulogy because he eulogized our grandfather (Rev. C. L. Franklin), my aunt (Erma Franklin) and my uncle (Cecil Franklin). However, there were several people that my aunt admired that would have been outstanding individuals to deliver her eulogy including Dr. William J. Barber, Rev. Al Sharpton, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, Rev. James Holley and Pastor E.L. Branch.”
The statement concluded: “We feel that Rev. Jasper Williams, Jr. used this platform to push his negative agenda, which as a family, we do not agree with.”
According to the Associated Press, the family had not spoken to Williams before the funeral about what he would discuss. His words “caught the entire family off guard,” Vaughn told the AP.
When asked for comment, Williams told the AP, “I understand it. I regret it. But I’m sorry they feel that way.”
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“In one of the darkest moments of our lives, we are not able to find the appropriate words to express the pain in our heart,” Franklin’s family said in a statement. “We have lost the matriarch and rock of our family. The love she had for her children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins knew no bounds. We have been deeply touched by the incredible outpouring of love and support we have received from close friends, supporters and fans all around the world.”
“We have felt your love for Aretha and it brings us comfort to know that her legacy will live on,” he said. “As we grieve, we ask that you respect our privacy during this difficult time.”
Williams wasn’t the only one to speak at Franklin’s funeral. The epic event also included touching speeches from family members, politicians including former President Bill Clinton, and friends like Tyler Perry, Cicely Tyson, and Clive Davis.
Faith Hill kicked off the musical performance tributes, followed by Ariana Grande — who sang Franklin’s 1967 hit “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.” Chaka Khan, Shirley Caesar, Fantasia Barrino-Taylor, Smokey Robinson, Yolanda Adams, Stevie Wonder, and Jennifer Hudson were also among those singers paying their respects to the Queen of Soul in song.