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“Queen of Soul” and Activist Honored: Aretha Franklin’s service was held in Detroit, Michigan as fans and celebrities alike celebrated her life

      Celebrities, politicians, church leaders and fans gathered in Detroit, Michigan over three days and in two seperate locations to celebrate the life of Aretha Franklin, legendary vocalist and activist.

      Franklin, born in March of 1942, changed the music industry by becoming the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Throughout her lifetime, Franklin won 18 Grammy awards. She also sold over 75 million records.

     However, her musical talents were not her biggest influence and gift to the world. During the Civil Rights Movement, she used her platform to advocate for racial equality. Franklin’s father was a preacher and Civil Rights activist named Clarence L. Franklin. He organized the Detroit Walk to Freedom in 1963. This influence since childhood led the “queen of soul” to use her God-given talent of singing to further equal opportunity for African Americans in the United States. Franklin even toured with Martin Luther King, Jr., singing in protest of segregation. She often paid for the gas for the transportation, allowing King to use his funds to further his revolutionary cause. In addition, her successful anthem, “Respect,” released in 1967, became the track of the Civil Rights era. Also, Franklin quickly came to the defense of Angela Davis in 1970 after she was arrested with the alleged involvement in a courtroom takeover. Davis, an activist herself, was a leader in Black liberation.

      “Angela Davis must go free… Black people will be free. I’ve been locked up (for disturbing the peace in Detroit) and I know you got to disturb the peace when you can’t get no peace. Jail is hell to be in. I’m going to see her free if there is any justice in our courts, not because I believe in communism, but because she’s a Black woman and she wants freedom for Black people. I have the money; I got it from Black people — they’ve made me financially able to have it — and I want to use it in ways that will help our people,” Franklin said.

      Her legacy in music and activism caused thousands of fans to celebrate her life for multiple days on social media with the hashtag, #ArethaHomegoing. Franklin died at the age of 76 earlier in Aug. after a battle with Pancreatic cancer.

      When the service began, Franklin’s fans began to line up outside, along with dozens of pink Cadillac owners, a remarkable tribute to hit “Freeway of Love” where she sang the lyrics,”We goin’ ridin’ on the freeway of love in my pink Cadillac.” Franklin’s service was also open casket, and as mourners passed they could see her body dressed in a long golden sequin gown and heels to match her casket.

      Aretha Franklin’s funeral was truly fit for a queen, as singers such as Ariana Grande, Chaka Khan, Faith Hill, the Clark Sisters, Fantasia Barrino Taylor, Jennifer Hudson, and Stevie Wonder all made musical tributes singing some of Aretha’s best-known songs such as “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” “I’m Going Up Yonder,” “Take My Hand, Precious Lord”, and “Amazing Grace”.

      As well as having several singers, the funeral also featured past Presidents who paid tribute. While Bill Clinton attended in person, Barack Obama and George W. Bush wrote letters for the event.

      In his letter Obama stated,  “Whether bringing people together through thrilling intersections of genres or advancing important causes through the power of song, Aretha’s work reflected the very best of the American story, in all of its hope and heart, its boldness and its unmistakable beauty.”

      Sources: CNN, Time

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