The Social Justice Ministry of Baptist General Convention of Virginia honors the life and legacy of our departed sister, the Queen of Soul, Aretha Louise Franklin. Throughout her career she always acknowledged that everything she had was from God. Further, she was never ashamed of the Gospel and proclaimed it consistently in her recordings and public appearances all over the world.
As the daughter of the African American church under the pastorate of her esteemed father, the Rev. C.L. Franklin, her faith was nurtured by her early experiences in the church and its focus on the Love of God, the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the liberation that it demands. It was the church that made room for her voice and witnessed her mastery on the piano. From then until now she shared her gifts all over the world, but always, everywhere, and in everything the “church” remained the foundation.
The Black church was infused in the words, inflections, cadence, rhythm, the high and low notes, the soaring shouts and mournful moans. As her fathered declared in her Amazing Grace album – “Truth be told, Aretha never left the church.” Without a doubt, the release of the Amazing Grace album brought the Gospel music of the church into the mainstream as never before. Her voice was heard on radio stations and TV stations where gospel music had never been played. This achievement sent many of our children back to church and our choirs found new life and meaning as they realized that the church would still make room for their gifts.
We respect and honor our Sister Beloved for using her voice. Her voice was, and is, the voice of every generation before us and every generation to come. R.E.S.P.E.C.T. We remember that her voice has often called the voice of the Civil Rights movement and that it still propels us to march forward and fight on until justice prevails for all of God’s children.
We honor her legacy of sharing her musical giftedness, and we must also remember her legacy of extraordinary generosity to many causes, especially her lifelong support of social justice organizations. She was a child of the Civil Rights movement and often used her concerts to raise funds to support the efforts of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and many civil rights organizations. Over the years she continued her financial support to various justice causes.
We thank God for the life of Aretha Franklin as we pray for her family and loved ones. In the words of Ms. Franklin as quoted in her memoir – From These Roots “God has been good to me; my life has been and is rewarding, exciting, and creative. And surely the best is yet to come. There are many songs that I want to sing. And sing… And sing… And sing… And sing…
To God be the glory.
August 17, 2018
Rev. Dr. J. Elisha Burke
Director of Social Justice Ministry
Baptist General Convention of Virginia