Aretha Franklin's family slam funeral pastor for 'offensive and distasteful' eulogy

Aretha Franklin's family have issued a statement blasting the pastor at her funeral for his "disrespectful" eulogy.

The Queen of Soul was laid to rest in Detroit on Saturday, but her loved ones are unhappy with Rev. Jasper Williams Jr. for neglecting to honour her memory and disparaging single mothers and the black lives matter movement in his speech.

Her nephew Vaughn Franklin, speaking on behalf of the family, said in a statement: "We found the comments to be offensive and distasteful.

"Rev. Jasper Williams spent more than 50 minutes speaking and at no time did he properly eulogise her."

And Vaughn admitted he wished they had asked someone else to deliver the eulogy instead of the pastor, who was chosen because of his involvement in previous family funerals.

He continued: "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.

"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."

During his speech at the Greater Grace Temple in Detroit, the pastor said there are "not fathers in the home no more" and that a black woman cannot raise a black boy to be a man, as well as proclaiming: "Black lives must not matter until black people start respecting black lives and stop killing ourselves."

And Vaughn criticised Williams for using the funeral of his aunt - who was a single mother to four sons - to "push his negative agenda".

He continued: "We feel that Rev. Jasper Williams, Jr. used this platform to push his negative agenda, which as a family, we do not agree with."

After the eulogy was delivered, Stevie Wonder appeared to address the comments when he took to the stage.

He was applauded as he said: "We need to make love great again because black lives do matter, because all lives do matter."

The pastor "regrets" upsetting Aretha's family and respects their opinion.

He said: "I understand it. I regret it. But I'm sorry they feel that way."

Tributes have been paid to Aretha Franklin, who died after battling cancer, by those from all walks of life. Source: 1 NEWS



Read Deadpool 2 star Rob Delaney's heartbreaking essay on son's cancer battle

Rob Delaney has penned a heartbreaking essay on his son's cancer battle, after the toddler passed away aged just two-years-old.

The Deadpool 2 star was struck by tragedy earlier this year when his son Henry - whom he had with his wife Leah - lost his battle with brain cancer, and has now shared an emotional essay that was originally penned as part of a book he wanted to release for parents of sick children.

Rob decided to stop writing the book when he saw his son's last "bad MRI scan", saying he and his family "just wanted to be with him around the clock and make sure his final months were happy."

Read full essay excerpt here.

Explaining why he posted the excerpt on Medium yesterday, the 41-year-old comedian wrote: "The reason I'm putting this out there now is that the intended audience for this book was to be my fellow parents of very sick children.

"They were always so tired and sad, like ghosts, walking the halls of the hospitals, and I wanted them to know someone understood and cared.

"I'd still like them to know that ... But I can't write that book anymore because our family's story has a different ending than I'd hoped for. Maybe I'll write a different book in the future, but now my responsibility is to my family and myself as we grieve our beautiful Henry."

The essay focuses on the months surrounding Henry's diagnoses and how his family helped the tot deal with his treatment, and Rob says that despite his son's condition, he felt "excited" to see him at the hospital.

Rob writes in part: "I may wish Henry wasn't in the hospital and it may make me f***ing sick that my kids haven't lived under the same roof for over a year. But I'm always, always happy to enter the hospital every morning and see him.

"It's exciting every day to walk into his room and see him and see him see me."

The actor cuts off his essay "abruptly", as he never finished the story before he learned Henry's diagnoses was terminal.

He said: "I'm aware this ends somewhat abruptly. The above was part of a book proposal I put together before Henry's tumour came back and we learned that he would die. I stopped writing when we saw the new, bad MRI.

"My wife and his brothers and I just wanted to be with him around the clock and make sure his final months were happy. And they were."

Rob Delaney with his son Henry. Source: Twitter


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Serena Williams is 'proud' of her friend Meghan Markle's charity work

Tennis champion Serena Williams has revealed she's "proud" of Meghan Markle after she launched a cookbook in support of the victims of the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

The 37-year-old royal has written the foreword to a recipe book from cooks at the Hubb Community Kitchen, which is based in London, and the Duchess of Sussex has revealed she felt "connected" to the Community Kitchen because it offers a "place for women to laugh, grieve, cry and cook together".

Responding to the announcement, the Duchess' good friend Serena wrote on her Twitter account: "I used to call you Meghan (and I still do) but dear Duchess of Sussex your first project "Together" a cookbook bringing women of all cultures together. I could not be more excited about it and proud of you.

"It's beautiful - diversity, inclusivity, coming together in grief or joy."

The book - which is called Together: Our Community Cookbook - marks the former Suits actress' first solo project as a royal.

Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, centre front, poses for a photograph with women of the Hubb Community Kitchen. Source: Associated Press

It features 50 recipes by women whose community was affected by the fire in the Grenfell tower block in London, which killed 72 people in June last year.

The long-term ambition behind the project is to provide support for the Grenfell families and others within the community.

Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex cooks with women in the Hubb Community Kitchen at the Al Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre. Source: Associated Press

The Duchess has played a hands-on role with the book, helping the group to find a publisher, and then providing legal support through the Royal Foundation charity.

The Royal Foundation is also responsible for ensuring that the proceeds from the sale of the book go directly to the Hubb Community Kitchen and other similar projects.

Speaking about the book, Meghan recently explained: "Through this charitable endeavour, the proceeds will allow the kitchen to thrive and keep the global spirit of community alive."

Meghan Markle and Serena Williams. Source: Associated Press


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Bert and Ernie aren't gay, Sesame Street insists as persistent puppet sexuality rumours swell again

On again off again gay rights icons Bert and Ernie aren't gay. Repeat: The famous puppets are not in a same-sex relationship.

That's the word from the producers of Sesame Street, who had to quell rumours about the duo's personal life yet again today after the theory - oft repeated over the show's nearly 50-year history -- was stoked by an interview with a former writer.

"I always felt that without a huge agenda, when I was writing Bert & Ernie, they were (gay)," said Mark Saltzman, who wrote for the show throughout most of the 1980s, in an interview with LGBTQ website Queerty.

"I don't think I'd know how else to write them, but as a loving couple... Because how else?"

Mr Saltzman said he was inspired to write their loving interactions and minor quibbles by his own relationship.

But in a tweet this morning, Sesame Street issued a statement insisting that "they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation".

"As we have always said, Bert and Ernie are best friends," producers said. "They were created to teach preschoolers that people can be good friends with those who are very different from themselves."

A writer previously revealed he wrote the roommates as a gay couple, but Sesame Workshop says none of the show’s puppets have a sexual orientation. Source: 1 NEWS


Award-winning thriller hitting Auckland stage - 'It will make you squeal'

There's an award-winning thriller showing in Auckland this week, and not in the movies, but on stage.

Māori playwright Albert Belz and director Tainui Tukiwaho are presenting Cradle Song, and they say the genre is fairly new to Kiwi theatres, as 1 NEWS' Laura Twyman discovers. 

A Māori playwright and director are behind Cradle Song, with a genre they say is fairly new to Kiwi theatres. Source: Breakfast


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